Gallery by Karen Akers
Cross country is a sport that is characterized by dedication and perseverance. Just like the courses they run, there are numerous ups and downs along the way.
Shady Spring senior Charlotte McGinnis is fully aware of the dedication it takes to succeed and how difficult it is to persevere through injuries and setbacks.
Saturday afternoon at Little Beaver State Park, McGinnis proved yet again that she is one of the areas top runners.
Running for the final time in the Shady Spring Invitational, McGinnis started fast and breezed to victory finishing 30 seconds ahead of the next closest runner.
“It is super exciting to win today, especially with it being my senior year. It’s an emotional day with it being my last race, here at least, and I really wanted to try my absolute best and leave it all out there,” McGinnis said.
McGinnis also felt her familiarity with the new course set-up was to her advantage in the race Saturday. She finished the 5K course in 21 minutes and 32 seconds.
“It’s a tough course, but I am glad I had the advantage of being able to train and practice here. So, I felt like I had some advantage there,” McGinnis admitted. “I have been trying to stay in the low 21’s (minutes). I haven’t been my best since 9th grade, but I have had injuries and moving, so there were a lot of hills in my journey. I think it went well today.”
With McGinnis at the lead, Shady Spring also won the team event with six runner finishing in the top-16.
Gwynn McGinnis, Charlotte’s younger sister came home sixth, while Journey Wisthoff was ninth and Braylie Wiseman was tenth. Abby Honaker finished 14th and Abby Szuch was 16th overall.
“Overall we are looking pretty good and the girls are coming on strong,” Shady Spring head coach Eric Lawson said. “We had four runners under 24 minutes and the fifth one was a mid-24. I am excited for them. My sixth runner ran really well. She was right on the heels of my fifth runner. As a whole I was extremely pleased with how the girls ran.”
Baylee Jarrell from Richwood finished second and teammate Carlee Dillard was seventh leading the Lumberjacks to a second place finish in the team event.
The sister combo from Princeton, Asia Collins and Hayley Collins came home fourth and fifth respectively in a battle to the wire. A late push by Asia nudged her older sister by .09 seconds.
“I haven’t ran this course since they changed it, but I think I did really good today. I looked back and I saw her coming. I felt bad for passing her, so I just let her win,” Hayley Collins said, smiling.
Carli Spade from PikeView finished third and Katie Collins from James Monroe was eighth on the girl’s side.
PikeView won the team event on the boy’s side placing all five place runners in the top-16.
Braden Ward and Matt Murphy placed fourth and fifth respectively, while Nate Cook was eighth. Kaleb Blankenship finished 12th and Jonah Nolan was 16th.
PikeView head coach Sandra Webb was all smiles after both races, especially considering she had two other girls run in the top-15 Saturday.
“I am so excited and so proud of the them. They have worked hard and have really showed up. We have a really good team. We had two seniors come back to go along with our freshmen and sophomores. We have a really strong group.”
Ward is one of PikeView’s senior runners, but he wasn’t completely sure he was going to run this year. Ward stated he was glad that he ultimately decided to run his final year of high school.
According to Ward, the finish Saturday is a momentum builder for regionals which are not far off.
“I started way too quick. That was my problem last year. The first mile today was flat and I ran really fast. I think if I would have slowed it down I would have got a better time and a better placing. The run today will help me heading towards regionals though.” Ward said.
Shady Spring finished second as a team led by Jaedan Holstein who finished third after battling a knee issue all season.
“I think I could have done better today. I was hoping to win my senior year, but it sets a tone for the rest of the season to show I am ready,” Holstein said. “I have been having some knee issues, but I am trying to battle through it. It kind of bothered me a little more than I should have let it today.”
Garett Hatcher was 10th for Shady Shady along with Bo Huffman in 14th, Zane Carothers 17th and Eli Northrop 18th.
Unfortunately for Shady, injuries have been an issue all across the board for the boys.
“On the boy’s side, if the stupid injury bug would go away, it would be nice for sure. Their was a lot of emotions on Senior Day, so I am just really proud of them,” Lawson said. “Jaedan is so tough. He is hurting right now, but there is not an ounce of quit in him. Hats off to PikeView. They are tough and they have a nice mix of youth and experience.”
The overall winner for the boys was A.J. Skeens from Sherman who also won last week’s PikeView Invitational.
“It felt really good today and it wasn’t too hot. My breathing felt good and finishing on a hill felt very good. It was downhill all the way,” Skeens said. “I didn’t wake up this morning thinking I would finish first. I thought maybe second or third. When I got first I was very surprised.”
Slate Swiger from Lewis County was second and his teammate David Hughes was sixth. Jacob White from Graham (Va.) was seventh and Caleb Carver from Oak Hill ran ninth.