Carolina 1-A XC Championships
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 21, 2010 1:47 PM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Nick Britt heard the footsteps.
Bryan Johnson kept pushing.
And this ending couldn't have been closer.
Britt and Johnson each crossed the finish line in 19 minutes, 2 seconds in the season-ending Carolina 1-A Conference boys' cross country championship Wednesday afternoon. Britt successfully defended his title -- by a toe -- on the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park course.
"It's a terrible way to lose, but that's all right," said Johnson. "It was a good race because I've never been that close to him before. My times are getting closer and closer. I tried to beat him here, but it didn't happen."
Hattie Doherty, meanwhile, claimed a championship that eluded her last season. The Princeton senior posted a meet-winning time of 23:42 -- more than a minute faster than runner-up Mikayla Huf of Goldsboro.
Rosewood's girls, led by Chloee Lamb's third-place effort, emerged the girls' team champion with a 23-32 victory over Princeton. Neither North Duplin nor Goldsboro entered enough runners to log a team score.
"I just told them to continue to do what they've done all year, they've finished first (as a team) in every meet this season," said Rosewood coach David Younts. "I think our greatest strength as a team is that we run together in a pack. The top runners help you out a lot, but it's the pack in the middle that helps you win the conference championship."
Princeton captured the boys' crown with a 31-52 triumph over Rosewood. North Duplin, led by Caleb Day's seventh-place finish, ended up third with 71 points. Goldsboro placed fourth with 82.
Johnson bolted from the start line and set the pace early in the boys' race. He hoped the strategy would entice Britt to match him step for step, but the crafty Eagle runner avoided the trap.
"I had a feeling he'd go out fast, I just had to make sure that I get in front of him and stay in front of him," said Britt. "It was a good pace ... hard one, though. The last stretch when we were neck to neck, I had to lay out every bit of strength I had.
"Whenever I hear him behind me, I know (in my heart) I don't want him to win, but I admire how hard he's working. I'm glad to know that he's pushing it."
The Dogs' Daniel Toler (20:16) grabbed third, while teammates Quinn Doherty (20:30) and Matt Edwards (20:50) grabbed fifth and sixth, respectively. The Eagles' Travis Cuddington seized fourth in 20:18.
Princeton's Chris Dewberry (20:52), Lane Dougherty (20:55) and Caleb Hinton (21:08) rounded out the top 10. The top eight runners earned all-Carolina Conference honors.
Goldsboro's Tyler Lane was 11th in 21:35. Spring Creek's Ian Ladd placed 14th in 21:38.
One year ago, Hattie Doherty secured first place in every regular-season meet. When the teams met at the Cliffs for the championship, Doherty ended up second behind Spring Creek's Savannah Egleston.
"I really wanted to win the conference this year," said Doherty. "I wanted to set the pace (today) and I knew God gave me this gift, so I wanted to make sure I honored Him in this race."
North Duplin's Samantha Wilkins ended up fourth in 26:09, followed by Goldsboro's Tiara Maynor (26:23). The Rebels' Miranda Connor grabbed sixth in 26:35 and Rosewood's Christine Conger (27:08) placed seventh.
Princeton's Abigail Rubio (27:26) crossed the line in eighth place, followed by Rosewood's tandem of Kasie Elliott (27:58) and Autumn Goff (28:01). The Eagles had six runners finish among the top 12.