The Halifax County High School cross country team traveled to the Smith River Sports Complex in Martinsville on Tuesday to compete in the Piedmont District championship meet.

The girls team placed second in the meet with an average 3.5-mile time of 25 minutes and 29 seconds and were led by Kate Bishop who finished fourth overall and ran an individual time of 23 minutes and six seconds.

The boys team placed third in the meet with an average 3.5-mile time of 20 minutes and three seconds and were led by Ethan Kirkhart who placed sixth overall and ran an individual time of 18 minutes and 25 seconds.

“This was a date that me and Coach (Michelle) Palmore have had on the teams’ minds since day one of the season. We constantly talk about the importance of using this meet to gauge the progress of the season and to build momentum for the regionals,” said coach David Riddle.

He added, “They didn’t disappoint. The mood was more focused than we had seen the entire year, both in the workouts leading up to this and the meet itself.”

Along with Bishop, the lady Comet runners had three girls finish in the top 15 including Lydia Wenzel who finished 10th overall, Morgan Crenshaw who finished 12th overall and Mallory Salley who finished 15th overall. All four girls finished with all Piedmont District performances.

“The girls came through with a sound second-place finish. They were able to hold off two good teams in Tunstall and Patrick County in a close battle for second, but just could not quite catch Bassett,” Riddle said. “The girls group was not able to place as a team last year due to not having enough runners because of illness and injury, so to come back here and capture second was big.”

The boys did not have the same team success. Only two Comet runners placed in the 15 finishes: Kirkhart and Will Van Opstal who had a ninth place finish.

“We were looking at a possible finish for the guys in one of the top two spots as well, but Bassett came in with an extremely solid performance for first and Tunstall was able to pull away from us for second. Still the guys fought hard, as Ethan Kirkhart and Will van Opstal finished off their stellar Piedmont District careers with all district finishes,” said Riddle.

The Comets also had one athlete — Jaci Parham — participate in the JV race. She ran a 3.5-mile time of 30 minutes and 27 seconds.

Brennan Hunt participated in the middle school race and was named a medalist with a fourth-place finish.

“Over half of the team came in with season PR’s (personal records) today, with many of those being career PR’s. Those are the type of performances we were expecting from them today. We will look to carry that momentum into regionals next week,” Riddle concluded.

The Halifax County High School cross country team will travel to Panorama Farms in Western Albemarle on Tuesday to race in regionals.

Josh Carlton is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jcarlton@gazettevirginian.com. 

Josh Carlton is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jcarlton@gazettevirginian.com.