Andrew Salley and Ethan Kirkhart, running for the Halifax County High School cross country team, finished first and second in a Piedmont District cross country meet hosted by Patrick County High School and held at Rotary Field in Stuart on Tuesday.
Salley ran a time of 14:49.94 and Kirkhart a time of 15:55.74 for the Comets, who posted a team score of 29 for the meet, run over a 4K course as opposed to a 5K course.
Bassett High School edged the Comets posting a team score of 26 on the boys’ side, and the Comets girls cross country team, with Lydia Wenzel posting a time of 22:16.00, also finished second in its meet, with the Comets posting a team score of 50, compared to 15 for Bassett.
On the boys’ side, J.T. Francis ran a time of 17:36.78 (7th) for the Comets, with teammates Trevor Riddle (19:55.16), Luke Redd (20:38.03) and Nathan Comer (21:23.64) finishing 10th through 12th at the meet.
Morgan Crenshaw (23:40.00), Mallory Salley (24:49.00), Jenna Hall (25:10.00), Ashley Irby (25:22.00) and Susanna Watts (29:03.00) finished 12th through 16th for the Comets at the girls meet.
The Comets employed a different strategy for running a 4K instead of a 5K course, coach David Riddle explained.
“We told the runners that we were looking for speed with the shorter race, and we got that from some, but others struggled a little with the different element of pacing,” Riddle noted.
Salley and Kirkhart each ran a very impressive race, with Kirkhart passing several runners near the end of the race to finish second, and Francis and Trevor Riddle also had top-ten runs, Riddle pointed out.
“While we hate to lose a close one to Bassett, we did narrow the gap from last week’s race,” said Riddle.
While noting Wenzel’s top-ten finish on the girls’ side, Riddle noted that he and assistant coach Michelle Palmore are still looking for “a little more speed from this group right now.”
“I think the pacing threw us off a little today. We have seen it from many in the past, and there is a ton of potential among the entire group,” explained Riddle.
“We just need to see that push that gets us closer to the top of the district like we have seen in the past.”
Some of the team is still dealing with injuries that have hampered their progress this season, Riddle pointed out.
“We will look for a strong showing at Smith River in our last regular season meet as we prepare for the district championship on the same course.”