By Carey Phillips


Smoky Mountain’s men and women qualified for the State 3-A Cross Country Meet, which will be held Saturday at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville.

The men will run at 9:40 a.m., and the women will run at 11 a.m.

The teams qualified this past Saturday at the Western 3-A Regionals at Freedom High in Morganton. The top 25 percent of teams at the regionals qualify for the state meet, and both SM squads claimed the final spot.

“We are so happy for the kids,” Coach Adam Phillips said. “They ran phenomenally on Saturday. Coach (Nathan) Frizzell and I are super proud of them.”

He said he thought this was the fourth time both teams qualified for state.

Lily Buenting led the Lady Mustangs as she was 18th in 21:14. Completing SM’s top five were:

Maia Wilde, 30th, 22:13; Sophia Ammons, 38th, 22:25; Vanessa Salgado, 39th, 22:42; and Lydia Norman, 80th, 24:17.

Caleb Phillips paced the Mustang men by finishing 17th in 17:31.84. Rounding out SM’s top five were:

Parker Smith, 21st, 17:42.38; Zeb Mathis, 45th, 19:00.31; Coleman Hopfinger, 60th, 19:31.76; and Richard Ly, 71st, 20:00.76.

North Lincoln won the women’s meet, which had 19 teams, with 33 points. West Henderson was second with 73, followed by North Buncombe (87), Tuscola (90), SM (204) and East Lincoln and St. Stephens (both 221).

North Lincoln also won the men’s meet, which had 22 teams, with 54 points to 90 for West Henderson. Cramer was third at 143, followed by Franklin (179), North Buncombe (193), SM (213) and North Iredell (234).

“Both teams ran exceptionally well,” Phillips said. “They were focused, dialed in and ready to go and did exactly what they needed to do. I think we are peaking at the right time. It was a very special day.”