10/20/11 — Carolina 1-A XC championships

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Carolina 1-A XC championships

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 20, 2011 1:49 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The old Nick Britt is back.

And he's a conference champion -- for the fourth time.

Britt successfully defended his Carolina 1-A Conference cross country crown with an 18-minute, 53-second effort during the season-ending meet Wednesday afternoon at Mount Olive College.

North Duplin teammates Genesis Orellano and Samantha Wilkins ran a spirited girls' race before Orellano claimed the individual title. She crossed the line nine seconds ahead of Wilkins, who had emerged victorious in the previous three regular-season conference meets.

Princeton placed five runners among the top 10 and repeated as the boys' team champion with 31 points. Spring Creek, spearheaded by Allen Coor's runner-up finish, claimed second with 66 points. North Duplin (71), Rosewood (77) and Goldsboro (102) rounded out the five-team title chase.

"All season we've been fortunate enough to win each meet," said Princeton boys' head coach Marty Gurganus. "These guys come to practice every day and work to improve. I don't have to push them. I set the practice schedule, put in motion what I need for them to do, they take it and follow it."

The Bulldogs wrestled the league championship away from archrival Rosewood with a 28-29 decision. Taylor Smith and Abby Rubio paced Princeton's title-clinching performance with fifth- and sixth-place finishes on the afternoon.

The Eagles won every regular-season meet.

"It was tough coming up short of repeating," said Rosewood head coach David Younts. "Princeton out-hustled us today and they deserve this championship. My hat's off to Marty and his team. It's a pleasure to compete against them each week."

Britt put his recent tribulations behind him.

There was no passing out from dehydration.

There were no wrong turns on a confusing course.

Britt actually finished second to Caleb Sanders of Midway, which did not factor into the outcome since it's not a conference member.

"(Smith) is a new guy and obviously a better runner," said Britt. "He's doing his best and I'm doing my best, so that's all that counts. I still give praise to God every time and I'm definitely working hard.

"He's the one giving me the strength to do it. Whether it goes bad or not, I still give Him praise."

Coor crossed the line in 19:22, while Princeton's Matt Edwards took third in 19:27. Twin siblings Lane and Quinn Daugherty ended up fourth and fifth, respectively. Rosewood's Travis Cuddington and North Duplin's tandem of Jose Barrena and Francisco Quinino completed the top eight.

The top eight runners earned all-Carolina Conference honors.

Wilkins paced herself from the starting gun and turned in a solid opening lap. On the second lap of the 5-kilometer course, a season-long injury began to nag her.

"I started struggling a little bit because my calf (muscle) has been hurting me a little bit lately," said Wilkins. "It was a good race. (Genesis) snuck up on me today and beat me. She deserved it, though."

Goldsboro's Mikayla Huf took third in 25:25.

"I've only been able to run two other meets this season because of my torn meniscus, but it felt good to run today," said Huf. "It hurt, but I pushed through it."

Fellow Cougar Grayson Collins placed fourth in 25:45. Rosewood's Ashley Durant took seventh behind Princeton's Smith and Rubio, while Goldsboro's Tiara Maynor captured the eighth spot to round out the all-Carolina Conference team.