10/30/10 — Wayne Christian wins state cross country meet

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Wayne Christian wins state cross country meet

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 30, 2010 11:09 PM

MONTREAT -- Will Massey gathered his teammates, stood tall in the center of the group and delivered a dynamic pre-race prayer.

The message was simple: "We can do this."

And Wayne Christian did.

Connor Jones emerged second overall individually and the Eagles seized the 2010 N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A boys' cross country state team championship Friday at Montreat College on Black Mountain.

Wayne Christian defeated runner-up Davidson Day School 41-59. Shannon Forrest (S.C.) placed third, while Epiphany and Trinity School rounded out the top five. Cape Fear Christian ended up sixth, followed by Flora MacDonald, Oakwood and county archrival Wayne Country Day.

"We had a great day, to say the least," said first-year Eagles head coach Bryan Jones. "The team philosophy was that Connor couldn't win it by himself. Everyone from number one to number seven knew it was going to be a team effort and everybody finished in top form."

Jones covered the challenging and picturesque 5K course in 18 minutes, 15 seconds. He crossed the line eight seconds behind eventual state champion Garret Conover, a senior from Shannon Forrest.

In 17 meets this season, Jones has ended up twice on three occasions.

"Connor likes to sprint out to the front and set the pace," said coach Jones. "He held the lead in the race for a lap and three quarters on the two-lap course. There is a large hill and the second time around, he sprinted up the hill and got on (Conover's) heels at the end, but didn't have enough to finish it through.

"The other guys picked him up and came in one right after the other."

Mark Sawyer grabbed fifth in 20:04, while Ben Sawyer placed 10th in 20:35. Spencer Foster secured 14th overall in 21:08.

Massey, ironically, secured the championship with a 16th-place effort in the nine-team meet which had 60 runners. He crossed the line two spots higher than Davidson Day School's fourth-place finisher.

Teammates Will Garner (28th, 22:30) and Matthew Wells (41st, 24:14) rounded out the Eagles' performance.

"They all did a great job and gutted it out," said Jones. "As soon as the race begins, the coaching is over. Then I become just a spectator and yell for the runners. Everyone of them gave everything they had.

"At the finish line, they were dead."

It was the fifth state championship in Eagle athletics history. The WCS softball team won back-to-back crowns in 2006 and 2007, while the boys' golf team secured titles in 2004 and 2006.

In previous years, 1-A and 2-A teams have competed together in the season-ending, state championship meet. The Association opted to offer a separate 1-A boys' race this season, and Jones felt his team had a chance to do well.

He never anticipated a championship run, however.

"We knew since that (the Association's decision) trimmed out the overall field that we had a good chance to come out (successful)," said Jones. "I, personally, didn't think we had a great chance at the beginning of the year. But as the year progressed and the runners progressed, they really believed they could win the championship."

And Massey helped them prove their faith in each other.