King crowned county champion
Freshman star Alexa King smoked the field and led the Marvin Ridge Mavericks to their third straight girls Union County Cross Country Championship on Tuesday.
The Mavericks dominated the race by capturing five of the top six spots. A fourth-place finish by Weddington's Morgan Garrett was the only thing that kept the Mavs from a perfect finish.
King led the way throughout and finished the race in 18 minutes and 49.1 seconds.
She won by more than 79 seconds, with teammate Melanie Hussey, a sophomore, placing second in 20:08.3.
King wasn't expecting to be so far ahead when she came out of the woods for the final time.
"I was just trying to stick to my paces and run the best race I could," King said. "I was trying to work with my team. I just wanted to take county with my team. We will continue to work hard the rest of the season."
Nicole Renwick crossed the finish line a little less than two seconds after Hussey to secure a 1-2-3 Mavs finish. Teammate Kylie Hennessey finished fifth and Kaitlyn Brown rounded out the top Mavs' top five in sixth.
Marvin Ridge's 17 points were well ahead of second-place Weddington (46).
"They have their sites set on the end of the season; our goal today was to work on race strategy, running a certain way through the first 1,000-2,000 meters and what to do after that," Mavericks coach Cameron Starr said. "That was the main objective today. It looks like they executed that pretty well. They wanted to defend their championship."
King has set the pace throughout the year for her squad.
"We just all work together and push each other at practice," King said. "We work hard to act as one team and score together."
King has pushed the limits of even her coach's imagination.
"She's incredible," Starr said. "I don't want to push her too hard but she's eating up every workout that we have. She is constantly wanting more. She is pushing the pace, pushing the boundaries. It is fun to watch, fun to be a part of but I have to closely monitor to make sure she is not over doing it. She's very coachable. She has done everything I've asked her to do. She's very focused and dedicated. She is a very talented young girl."
The Maverick, who are running in the Adidas Cross Country Challenge on Saturday, met the top-ranked 3A team Cardinal Gibbons and found they are still behind the defending champions, who defeated the Mavs 114-170.
"It wasn't close but it was closer than it has been in the past,"' Starr said. "We know what we've got to do and they're motivated. I told them Cardinal Gibbons played all of their cards on Saturday. We have a few girls that are banged up but I think that we can bring them into the mix in the next three to four weeks. If we can do that and the other girls continue to progress like they have been, then I think we have a legitimate shot at it. Right now, Cardinal Gibbons is the top team in the state and we're just a little shy of it."
Starr is pleased with his team's work habits.
"I think the two through five runners have to continue what they're doing," Starr said. "They're hitting every workout. ... They're very positive and motivating one another. They just need to keep doing that and set their sites on the state championship. They have to believe they can do it."
Weddington's second place finish included five runners in the top 14, which was the qualifying line for all-county honors.
Piedmont placed third with 85 points, led by Michelle Glenn in seventh (20:58).
Cuthbertson finished fourth with 128 points with their top finisher Caroline Sperry placing 10th (21:38).
Union County Cross Country Championships
(held at Wingate University Sept. 24)
1. Marvin Ridge 17
2. Weddington 46
3. Piedmont 85
4. Cuthbertson 128
5. Metrolina Christian 156
6. Sun Valley 177
7. Porter Ridge 182
8. Central Academy 186
9. Parkwood 244
1. Alexa King, Marvin Ridge 18:49.1
2. Melanie Hussey, Marvin Ridge 20:08.3
3. Nicole Renwick, Marvin Ridge 20:10.2
4. Morgan Garrett, Weddington 20:16.9
5. Kylie Hennessey, Marvin Ridge 20:25.9
6. Kaitlyn Brown, Marvin Ridge 20:49.5
7. Michelle Glenn, Piedmont 20:58.4
8. Natalie Warner, Weddington 21:00.9
9. Allison Long, Weddington 21:24.9
10. Caroline Sperry, Cuthbertson 21:38.4
11. Elizabeth Farquhar, Weddington 21:44.2
12. Jenna Louis, Cuthbertson 21:53.0
13. Amanda Conti, Porter Ridge 21:55.8
14. Brianna Kapheim, Weddington 22:01.2