10/08/09 — Carolina 1-A Cross Country runs in reverse

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Carolina 1-A Cross Country runs in reverse

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 8, 2009 1:47 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Cross country runners don't expect to conquer the challenging, tree-lined trails of Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.

They hope to survive.

Especially when they run the 3.1-mile (5K) trek in reverse.

"More difficult," said Goldsboro's Bryan Johnson as he caught his breath and sipped on bottled water after runnig the course Wednesday afternoon.

Runners opened the Class 1-A Carolina Conference meet with their customary lap around the parking lot and then scurried downhill into the woods as sunbeams danced through the trees waving in the breeze. A steep hill greeted the runners after a sharp right-hand turn.

"That first hill is really hard, you have to dig going up ... it's steep," said Johnson. "I didn't like running (the course) backwards, but it does make you better doing that. My time wasn't as good, but my place was better."

Rosewood sophomore Nick Britt set the pace and completed the first lap in 101/2 minutes. He shaved nearly 60 seconds his second time through and logged a meet-winning time of 19 minutes, 35 seconds.

It was Britt's third consecutive victory.

"It was a little bit harder going up than coming downhill," said Britt. "I could hear someone always behind me, so I had to push to keep them from catching up to me."

Cape Fear's W.A. Myatt crossed second in 20:04, followed by Johnson in 20:23. North Duplin's Victor Flores ended up a season-best fourth in 20:46, followed by Spring Creek's Corey Howell in 20:48.

"(Victor) has been a surprise," said North Duplin head coach James Foster. "He actually came out late and his first practice was our first meet (of the season)."

The Rebels' Diego Juarez crossed the finish line sixth in 20:52. Spring Creek's Andrew Pierce (21:16), Cape Fear's Chad Turlington (21:20), the Rebels' Caleb Day (21:32) and Rosewood's Travis Cuddington (21:49) completed the top 10.

Princeton's Caleb Hinton placed 13th overall in 22:24.

North Duplin claimed the boys' portion of the meet with 43. Just 12 points separated the next four teams -- Princeton (68), Rosewood (75), Goldsboro (78) and defending league champion Spring Creek (80).

"The boys did well," said Foster.

On the girls' side, Princeton junior Hattie Dougherty (24:40) and Spring Creek's Savannah Egelston (25:12) continued their season-long rivalry. Egelston led a small pack of runners into the woods and held a three-second advantage over Dougherty after one lap.

But aggravating back spasms caused Egelston to stop momentarily near the park's museum, and Dougherty took the lead.

"I caught her at the top of the hill," said Dougherty, who won her fourth conference meet of the season. "Savannah was close and she ran really well today. We're both getting better and it's good competition."

Rosewood teammates Holly Heath (27:58) and Jennifer Page (28:00) ended up third and fourth, respectively. Goldsboro's Mikayla Huf claimed fifth in 28:12.

Princeton's Sarah Toler (29:35), Rosewood's Autumn Goff (29:37) and Alexa Hinnant (31:23), North Duplin's Melissa Summerlin (32:02) and Princeton's Katherine Lampe (32:50) completed the top 10.

The Eagles edged the Dawgs 27-39 in team competition. The Cougars claimed third with 54 points.