Members of the Halifax County High School girls cross country team include front row from the left Ashley Irby, Morgan Crenshaw, Savannah Patterson, Hailey Howard, Cheyenne McElroy and Lydia Wenzel; second row from the left Summer Lacks, Ruth Farmer, Maci Henderson, McKenzie Patterson, Mollie Conner and Janae Hansen; back row from the left Coach David Riddle, Chloe Lacks, Ella Morrison, Alyssa Mitchell, Lucy Settle, Abby Casen, Jamie Shelton and Coach Melanie Saunders.

Halifax County High School Head Cross Country Coach David Riddle admits he has a young team this season, especially with the girls squad. He also admits the team’s youth will show at times this season.

Those things being said, and with the nature of cross country competition being what it is with the focus being on the district, region and state meets at the end of the season where the results have the most bearing, it is not unreasonable to expect that the Comets’ focus this season is to work toward and build for the post-season meets.

That is an important ingredient, especially when a coach has a young team.

“The girls side has been hit very hard with losses either to graduation, runners moving, or people choosing to try something else out the past few years,” Riddle said.

“This season is no exception. Still, we have a great group with a really strong work effort and attitude here.”

While Riddle has a good handful of newcomers to the team this season, he also has some experienced runners. Seniors Janae Hansen and Summer Lacks will serve as the captains for the Lady Comets this season.

“Both have a lot of experience in the top seven, and like our boys team captains are tremendous leaders and examples for the rest of the team,” Riddle pointed out.

Other returning runners for the Lady Comets team include junior Abby Casen who was the top runner for the team last season.

“She has continued to be at the top in workouts so far, and is looking to have a great year,” Riddle said.

Also returning for the Lady Comets are freshman Chloe Lacks and junior Maci Henderson, both of whom are expected to land spots in the top seven.

“Chloe ran for us as an eighth-grader last year,” Riddle said, “and always ran with the top seven varsity runners. She is going to be counted on this year now that she is in a spot that counts. Maci also spent a good chunk of the year in the top seven last year and is looking solid this year as well.”

Rounding out the group of returning runners are senior Alyssa Mitchell, juniors Mollie Conner, McKenzie Patterson and Jamie Shelton and sophomore Cheyenne McElroy.

“All are showing improvement and look to continue to see their times drop as we move along,” pointed out Riddle. 

When it comes to the newcomers in the Lady Comets’ ranks, some are already making their presence felt in terms of attempting to land a spot in the top seven. Making the most notable run at this point are freshmen Ella Morrison and Lydia Wenzel.

“Ella and Lydia have been near the top in all of our workouts so far,” noted Riddle.

“Both are in ninth-grade, so we will be counting on them not only this year but for the future as well.”

Juniors Ruth Farmer and Lucy Settle, freshman Ashley Lacks and eighth-graders Morgan Crenshaw, Hailey Howard and Savanah Patterson round out the group of newcomers to the team.

“They are learning the sport and have all shown a great desire to improve,” noted Riddle. 

The Lady Comets open regular-season competition Thursday when Halifax County High School hosts Bluestone High School and Park View High School of South Hill at 5 p.m. at Edmunds Park.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at