By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain’s men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in a pair of recent meets.
SM traveled to West Henderson on Nov 21 and to Brevard on Nov. 24.
The Mustang men won at West with 35 points to 37 for the Falcons. R-S Central had 72, and Chase scored 75.
SM’s Parker Smith finished second in 18:57. He was followed by Caleb Phillips (third, 19:43) and Juan Guerrero (fifth, 20:27). Rounding out SM’s top five were Henry Hanks (12th, 21:46) and Grantham Hanson (13th, 22:25).
“The boys had a very successful meet,” Coach Pam Shuler said. “The girls did not have the five runners required to score.”
Sophia Ammons twisted her ankle and was unable to finish leaving the team with four runners.
Lily Buenting was second in 21:59, followed by Maia Wilde (sixth, 23:29), Natalie Parris (10th, 24:44) and Lydia Norman (14th, 27:40).
The teams encountered temperatures of 42 degrees at race time Saturday at Brevard.
Brevard’s men won 17-40, and the Lady Devils won 16-46. Pisgah did not have enough runners to qualify for team standings.
“It was a good flat course on an old airplane runway,” Shuler said. “Both teams did well, but we are young and inexperienced compared to Brevard. We held our own and had good times, but we are not strong enough yet to beat Brevard. I am really proud of our kids and how hard they are working to improve.”
Mitchell Russotti was fourth for the men in 19:12. Completing the Mustangs’ top five were:
Guerrero, seventh, 19:46.4; Smith, eighth, 19:46.5; Phillips, ninth, 20:10; and Hanks, 16th. 21:22.
Wilde paced the Lady Mustangs as she was sixth in 22:24. Rounding out SM’s top five were:
Ammons, ninth, 24:33; Norman, 13th, 25:12; Holly McCoy, 15th, 25:15; and Emma Jute, 16th, 25:45.
Shuler said the most improved runners have been Guerrero and Wilde.
“Juan has never run cross country before, but he is definitely learning how to be competitive and out sprint his opponents,” she said. “Maia has come on strong as our number two runner and set personal-best times at nearly every race.”
The coach said Buenting developed some breathing issues due to the cold air at Brevard and was unable to finish.