Pisgah and Tuscola’s cross county teams have been busy running across Western North Carolina and beyond as runners work on improving times before the postseason.
Bears, Mounties run for melons
Pisgah and Tuscola’s cross country teams raced at the Watermelon Run — one of the largest cross country meets of the year — Sept. 13, at Smoky Mountain High School.
Aptly named the Watermelon Run, every runner gets a watermelon reward at the end of the race.
The field consisted of 11 teams gunning for success in the 3.1 mile race.
The girls race featured 92 runners at the gun and came down to a battle between West Henderson and Tuscola for the title.
Both teams placed 10 runners in the top 16 spots, but West Henderson edged out the Mountaineers 27-50 (scoring is based on adding the place finishes for the top five runners).
Tuscola’s Eva Rinker finished in second place (19:29), only 17 seconds behind Noelle Houlihan (19:12) of West Henderson.
Tuscola runners Alexis Stevenson (6th place – 20:26), Olivia Arnold (13th – 21:05), Luci Snyder-Lowe (16th — 21:24) and Annaleah Hill (17th – 21:27) finished out the point earners for the Mountaineers.
Other Mountaineer runners included Annalisse Phillips (39th – 24:11), Georgia Crowder (44th – 24:42) Violet Plexico (67th – 28:33), Avery Mashburn (74th – 29:03) and Abbie Ball (87th – 32:36).
The Pisgah girls did not qualify for team consideration because they did not have five runners.
The four Bear runners who did race were: Gaby Lara Arredondo finishing 65th (27:32), Caroline Henson (75th – 30:00), Jennifer Landiverde (76th – 30:47) and Mary Curlee (84th – 32:29).
In the boys race, Pisgah finished in eight place with a point total of 233.
Sophomore standout Daniel Sayblack finished seventh overall in a 93-man field. He continues to lower his times and rack up top-ten finishes. Sayblack’s 17:16 is a season best, and was only 31 seconds from top-five honors.
Other point earners for the Bears were Christian Basulto (43rd – 20:21), Aleck Tiller (48th – 20:57), Devin Velasquez (54th – 21:31) and Will Moore (89th – 33:31).
Tuscola’s boys did not qualify for team consideration, only having four runners available.
Tuscola placed two runners in the top 20, however. Jordan Lombard placed 19th with a time of 18:36. Right behind him was Noah Clancy, who took 20th with a mark of 18:44.
Hunter Sollie ran 20:28 to earn 44th position and Austin Thomas placed 55th with a time of 21:31 to round out the team.
Pisgah competes at Friday Night Lights
Pisgah head coach Joe Sayblack took his team to the Fright Night Lights XC Festival Sept. 9, in Kernersville.
Joe Sayblack has made it clear that he wants his teams to be prepared when conference, regional and state competitions roll around.
So it’s no coincidence that the Friday Night Lights meet was held at the Ivey Red Sports Complex, where the state meet will be held in November.
Joe Sayblack wanted his team to experience Ivey Red and to feel the course and be better prepared for the moment.
Friday Night Lights is a large run with 11 divisions of runners.
The Boys Open 5K was the premier race, and Daniel Sayblack again proved he’s a top runner. In a field of over 240 runners, he cruised to another top 10 finish, taking ninth place in a time of 18:00.
Teammates Jesus Zaratre-Rubio (142nd place – 21:26), Tiller (163rd – 22:00) and Velasquez (16th – 22:02) completed the boys race.
In the Boys Developmental Mixed 2-mile race, Jacob Vick took 34th place with a 16:28 and Moore placed 84th with a 19:10.
In the JV girls race, Caroline Henson placed 244th in a time of 27:20.
In the Developmental Mixed 2-mile girls competition, Arredondo placed 48th in 18:00.
Following her were Raquel Munoz (152nd – 20:20), Curlee (169th – 20:55) and Courtney Ball (185th – 22:01).
Mountie girls finds success at Freedom
Tuscola and Pisgah competed this week at the Freedom Invitational hosted by Freedom High School Sept. 21, in Morganton.
The Freedom Invitational is a measuring stick for the postseason campaign, which begins with the Mountain 7 Conference Championship Oct 18.
Over 150 runners from 16 teams competed in the boys race, while 146 runners from 17 schools challenged in the girls race. To add to an already challenging course, the temperature soared to 91 degrees.
Daniel Sayblack finished in fifth place overall in a time of 18:32, leading the boys team to a sixth place finish.
Rounding out the boys were Basulto (42nd – 21:25), Valasquez (48th –21:44), Tiller (55th – 22:03), Leo Bolejack (57th – 22:06) and Jonah Webb (100th – 24:28).
Pisgah’s Arreddondo was the top female finisher, placing 89th overall in a time of 28:17.
Henson (102nd — 29:25), Munoz (109th – 29:52), Landeverde (114th – 30:12) and Curlee (130th – 32:51) were the other finishers.
Joe Sayblack was satisfied with his team’s effort.
“We did really well on both sides, boys and girls. Our kids got the chance to run on the course that will be the regional course this year. The boys scored sixth out of 16 teams. And even though the girls came in last, it was the first time in at least two years that we’ve had a girl’s team score. That was a big stepping stone for us,” he said.
The Mountaineer girls dominated the competition, placing their top five runners in the first 11 spots.
The team score was 36 (point totals are based on the teams top five runner positions).
South Iredell High school took second place, 31 points behind the Mountaineers.
Rinker cruised to 2nd overall with a time of 20:55, Stevenson placed 4th in 21:13, Snyder-Lowe took 9th in 22:26, Arnold placed 10th in 22:39 and Hill took 11th with a time of 22:51.
Rounding out the team was Selah Hill (12th – 23:00), Faith Dougherty (17th – 23:30), Phillips (28th – 24:33), Crowder (47th – 25:50), Mashburn (121st — 31:26) and Ball (146th – 37:47).
Tuscola head coach Kevin Fitzgerald was happy with the girls effort, but said some of the top competition did not attend.
“It was a good day, and the competition was OK. Even though there were a lot of teams, our main competition wasn’t there. We’re going to a meet Oct. 1, in Charlotte, that will have North Lincoln, West Henderson, North Buncombe and more teams that will be our competition. We’ll see what happens there,” he said.
As always, the goal is for better times.
“Last year at the regional meet, on the exact same course, the team averaged 21:10. That included the top seven runners. Yesterday, they averaged 22:00. It’s five weeks earlier in the season, though. I’ll tell them at practice that they ran, on average, 50 seconds faster last year at the regional meet. The goal for them is to be faster,” Fitzgerald said.
The Tuscola boys did not qualify for a team score due to only having four runners.
Lombard placed 12th overall in a time of 19:16, Clancy placed 14th in 19:21, Kaiden Griffin placed 63rd in 22:28 and Thomas claimed 68th in 22:32.