The Transylvania Times -

By Philip Latter
For The Transylvania Times 

Brevard Cross Country Opens Strong At Jackson Park – Brevard NC


Blue Devil Noah Graham recently finished ninth in the Boys' Championship Race held in Jackson Park. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Sides/NC

The Lady Blue Devils cross country team cemented its place as a WNC Athletic Conference and 2A contender by placing 4th in a field of 34 teams in the Girls Invitational Race at the WNCCCC Aug. 29 in Hendersonville.

Eliza Witherspoon led the Lady Blue Devils with a 2nd place overall finish, followed closely by sophomores Ava Findlay (16th) and Julia Smith (22th). Freshman Lillie Siniard stepped up big as the fourth runner, placing 48th overall despite a rough start, while sophomore Sara Rain Tree ran close to her personal best en route to a 77th place finish. Freshman Alyssa Lefler rounded out the varsity squad by placing 119th.

"Even after watching how well our girls practiced this summer and during the early part of the season, they still blew away my expectations for the first meet," says head coach Philip Latter. "If any of these ladies needed proof that all the work would pay off in a big way, today validated it."

The ladies continued their streak of hot racing in the Girls Individual Race, where freshman Anna Schrader placed 13th overall, and was followed in close succession by sophomore Hannah Dickson (26th) and freshman Emma Dauster (28th).

"That just shows me the kind of depth we have and how everyone is excited and feeding off each other's momentum," Latter says. "It's good to see that hunger and desire so early in the season, because we have a lot of big goals to shoot for."

Greer Middle College Charter (SC) won the meet with a low score of 125 points, followed closely by Northwest Cabarrus (128) and Swain County (134). Brevard scored 161. That tally was good enough to beat conference rivals Smoky Mountain (8th – 196), Franklin (10th – 244), Pisgah (13th – 377), and East Henderson (14th – 402).

West Henderson ran their varsity time in the Championship race; however, Brevard's average time was nearly two minutes faster, giving the Blue Devils a decided advantage despite the lack of a direct head-to-head matchup.

"Knowing we had a chance to be competitive and that I'd get a chance to train a great group of kids in one of the best places to run in the entire country was one of the big appeals of moving to Brevard," says Latter, who is in his first season coaching the Blue Devils.

"The other WNCAC teams are solid; I had a friendly rivalry with Smoky Mountain back when I was coaching at Swain County. So it's great to carry that over here and immediately be in the thick of things."

Another athlete in the thick of things is junior Noah Graham. Noah was allowed in the Boys Championship Race and proved his worth, running 16:49 and placing ninth overall.

"Noah is one of the humblest and most talented runners I've ever worked with," says Latter. "It's going to be fun watching him develop into a contender for a state title as the year progresses. He's that good."

The rest of the boys team acquitted themselves well in the Boys Invitational Race. Freshmen Will Coye and Noah Schoenacher led the Blue Devils with 71st and 87th place finishes, respectively. Junior Aaron Neumann was the next man in, followed by Alex Hargis, William Cash, Cole Carroll and Noah Housman. That squad placed 29th out of 34 teams.

"You can't read into that final score too much," says Latter. "If Noah Graham had raced with them, they would have finished about 20th, which is pretty respectable. And Will and Noah ran like experienced veterans, not freshmen in their first races. The fact of the matter is we're a very young team that's pulling a lot from our soccer program. Four of our kids are mainly soccer players and we're just fortunate that Coach Murray does such a good job of conditioning them. It'll be a developmental year, but I think the amount of progress we'll make will be phenomenal."

The Blue Devils return to action on Saturday at the Eye Opener Classic in Spartanburg, S.C.


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