By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain senior Tyler Watterson and freshman Lily Buenting will take part in the State 2-A Cross Country Meet on Saturday at Kernersville.
The men’s meet will be at 2:30 p.m., with the women running at 3:30 p.m.
The pair qualified at the Western 2-A Cross Country Regionals held last Saturday at Newton by being among the top seven runners who were not on qualifying teams.
The Lady Mustangs missed qualifying as a team by 10 points.
North Lincoln finished on top of the 22 teams. Lake Norman Charter was second followed by Brevard, Owen, Hendersonville, Franklin, South Point and SM. The top six teams qualified for state. The Lady Mustangs were 10 points behind Franklin.
North Lincoln’s Angie Allen won the race in 18:29. There were 158 runners.
Buenting placed 15th in 20:49. Completing SM’s top five were:
Anna Morgan, 35th, 22:04; Maia Wilde, 67th, 23:21; Lydia Norman, 69th 23:34; and Becky Pechmann, 75th 23:43.
North Lincoln also won the men’s meet out of 26 teams in the field. SM finished 14th. Seven teams qualified for state.
North Lincoln’s Jason Thompson was the individual winner in 15:50. There were 184 runners.
Watterson placed 16th for the Mustang men in 17:09. Rounding out their top five were:
Parker Smith, 52nd, 18:32; Ben Saunooke, 76th, 19:04; Henry Hanks, 82nd, 19:10; and Caleb Phillips, 111th 19:55.
“It was a good course,” Coach Pam Shuler said. “It was nice and flat, and the weather was really good. I think our region is the largest in the state.”
She said it’s tough competing against perennial power North Lincoln, which was a 3-A school prior to the most recent realignment.
“We also have to go against some teams from the Charlotte area,” she said. “I think the competition in our regional is significantly more than in other regions.
“We ran good races,” she added. “The kids did their absolute best.”
The coach was pleased with the performances of Buenting and Watterson.
“Lily and Tyler both had exceptionally well-run races,” Shuler said. “Lily, as a freshman, did outstanding. Only one other ninth-grader was in the top 20. Tyler is finishing out his senior year in the state championship meet. I’m so proud of him. He’s done fantastic for our team the last four years.”