Warriors three-peat; Inuwa wins individually
Weddington High's boys cross country captured its third straight Union County Championship in a competitive meet that included the top five finishers from different schools.
Central Academy junior Elijah Inuwa brought home the gold.
Inuwa bested Weddington's Ryan Hobbs down the stretch, covering the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes 34.8 seconds. Hobbs crossed in 16:41 and the Mavericks' Jake Blizzard was third in 16:49.
The Warriors grabbed the team championship with a score of 37 — eight points better than second place Marvin Ridge (45).
"It's always tough competition when we come to the county meet," said WHS coach Rick Spencer. "We have some good teams and individuals in our county. We knew on paper we looked like the best team but we knew that the other teams would put up a fight. We barely beat Marvin and there were some good individuals out there from other teams as well. It's always good preparation for the next part of our season. We're pleased with what we did today but we're still working hard."
While the top five was diversified, Weddington and Marvin Ridge proved to have superior depth over the rest of the county. Both placed their six runners among the top 14 (which earns all-county honors).
"These two teams are just really close," Spencer said. "We're both two of the best teams in the state for 3A. We're both ranked in the top five. We were the best team out there today but maybe tomorrow it's Marvin. It goes back and forth and we've done that since Marvin opened. There is a lot of tradition in this county of good teams."
Inuwa felt good coming out of the gate. He said the pace allowed him to sit back early.
"Today was a relatively easy race," Inuwa said. "I thought it was going to be a lot harder and I was prepared for that. No one was keen to take it out hard so I just sat with them. No one up front had a kick and I knew that so I was willing to sit there with them. I had some trouble with the workouts in the early season, the long, grinding out strength work but with the speed work we've been doing it's going good."
Inuwa was hoping to get more push from the competition. With preparation to run a tough race he wanted to aim for a new low time.
Inuwa wanted to run the event in under 16 minutes, but more importantly wanted to be the county champion.
"I'm glad to come away with a win," he said. "I always look at county as a preparation for state. I don't think this was on the same as state will be. We definitely need to get some speed in, trying to cover that last mile as quick as possible. I know at states it's going to be a pretty crazy last mile."
Inuwa's victory helped the Cougars to a third-place team finish with 91 points.
Spencer is pleased with the way his team has responded to some injuries.
"We're getting back from that so that's a good thing," Spencer said. "Some of our boys need to learn how to pace a little bit better and work on race strategy. The training is going well, we just need to execute a little better in the meets."
Forest Hills got ain impressive showing from Frisco Poole, who placed fourth in 16:51.2.
Cuthbertson came in fourth as a team with 128 points, led by fifth-place finisher Danny Sodano (16:51.4).
Piedmont finished fifth despite not having an all-county runner.
Union Country Cross Country Championships
(held Tuesday at Wingate University)
Boys team results
1. Weddington 37
2. Marvin Ridge 45
3. Central Academy 91
4. Cuthbertson 128
5. Piedmont 157
6. Metrolina Christian 169
7. Porter Ridge 185
8. Parkwood 217
9. Forest Hills 245
10. Sun Valley 269
1. Elijah Inuwa, Central Academy 16:34.8
2. Ryan Hobbs, Weddington 16:41.0
3. Jake Blizzard, Marvin Ridge 16:49.3
4. Frisco Poole, Forest Hills 16:51.2
5. Danny Sodano, Cuthbertson 16:51.4
6. Brandon Dalla Rosa, Weddington 16:56.8
7. Mitchell Resor, Weddington 16:57.9
8. Daniel Ferguson, Marvin Ridge 17:16.7
9. Zach Durand, Marvin Ridge 17:17.6
10. Alex Hazan, Weddington 17:18.4
11. Austin Payeur, Marvin Ridge 17:20.9
12. Colton Jordan, Weddington 17:29.5
13. Matthew Conner, Weddington 17:38.2
14. Charlie Laatsch, Marvin Ridge 17:39.3