Metrolina Christian hosted its fourth annual Carolinas Kickoff cross country meet Aug. 31 at its home track, and the Warriors had several runners who placed within the top 20 of their respective divisions despite being down four of their top eight girls.
But it was Arborbrook Christian who stole the show as Elizabeth Timberlake was second for the girls and teammate and brother Benjamin Timberlake placed second for the boys. Both finished as the county’s top runners.
Benjamin Timberlake ran 16:45.1, but was edged at the finish line by Davidson Day’s Mitchell Zammitti (16:45.0) to kick off the boys race.
The rest of the top 20 boys finishers included Dominc Conroy (Porter Ridge, third), Jacob Laney (Porter Ridge, fourth), Ethan Bradley (Parkwood, fifth), Noah Estrada (CATA, seventh), Elliot Wunder (CATA, eighth), Logan Shaffer (Parkwood, ninth), Kevin Cunningham (Sun Valley, 10th), Jonathan Ellis (Parkwood, 13th), Daniel Marion (Metrolina Christian, 14th), Camden Johnson (15th), Grason Wilson (CATA, 17th), Trent Williford, Parkwood, 19th) and Benjamin Carman, (Arborbrook Christian, 20th).
On the girls side, Elizabeth Timberlake finished in 19:32, which trailed Avery Shope, a York County homeschooled student, by 13 seconds.
Timberlake was one of several country runners who starred at the race, including Carolina Fagan (Porter Ridge, third (19:36), Taylor Dixon (Metrolina Christian, ninth), Liza Shuck (Metrolina Christian, 11th), Reagan Pruitt (Metrolina Christian, 12th), Grace Lane (Arborbrook Christian, 15th), Alli Flannery (Metrolina Christian, 16th), Brooke Williford (Parkwood, 18th) and Brooke Butler (CATA, 19th).
While only a handful of county teams competed at the Metrolina Christina Carolina’s kickoff, it got me thinking about which runners have risen to the top of the state time sheets for both boys and girls. Union County athletes are consistently among the fastest in the state as powerhouse schools like Cuthbertson, Weddington and Marvin Ridge churn out top runners from their deep middle school programs.
Through Sept. 2, here’s a look at which runners – both boys and girls – rank within the state’s top 50.
Weddington’s Jake Toomey clocked a personal best 15:34 at the Providence Invitational on Aug. 24. Toomey’s time is the second-fastest run in the state this season, trailing Cleveland’s Zachary Clark (15:29).
Weddington sophomore Haden Miller clocked a 16:33 at the Providence Invitational and holds the 28th fastest time in the state.
Caden Townsend, a freshman and new threat for Weddington, ran a personal best 16:46 at the Providence Invitational and holds the 45th fastest time. Townsend holds the third fastest freshman time in the state so far as well.
Like the boys, Weddington runners dot the girls time sheet starting with Anna Ritter, a Warrior junior who holds the fifth best time (18:47) in the state so far. Ritter recorded her personal best at the Providence Invitational.
The Warriors have each of their top five runners included within the state’s top 30 times, which is a more than impressive early season feat.
Sophomore Emma Jones (19:03, 15th) is just outside the 13 girls in the state who have broken the 19-minute mark already this season.
Senior Kathleen Abrams is in the same boat as Jones, and her personal-best 19:11 is 17th in the state and within striking distance of a sub-19 minute run.
Sophomore Alyx Beausoleil (19:25, 24th) and junior Elizabeth Starkie (19:33, tied for 29th) round out the Warriors’ dominance and as of now are the county’s top five runners although they have some competition on their heels.
Porter Ridge’s Fagan ran 19:36 at the Metrolina meet, which is 32nd-fastest in the state. Marvin Ridge’s Kayla Basinger (19:36, 33rd) and Cuthbertson’s Madeline Hill (19:57, 47th) round out the group of runners within the state’s top 50. More will likely make the charge, prompting current times to plummet as the season wears on.