The Transylvania Times -

By Phillip Latter
BHS XC Coach 

Lady Blue Devils Claim Second Straight XC Conference Title


October 20, 2016

Andrew Robinson and Noah Graham helped pace Brevard's boys' cross country team to a fourth place finish at the WNC Athletic Conference meet held Tuesday. Meanwhile, Lillie Siniard turned in a third place finish to help the girls' team lock up the top three spots and cruise to their second straight conference title. (Photos courtesy of Chris Dauster)

Lillie Siniard wasn't interested in any type of consolation prize.

The sophomore had shown flashes of brilliance all season long, but often suffered in the heat.

With warmer temperatures forecast for the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference championships on Tuesday, plenty of well-wishers told her a top-10 finish was acceptable.

Instead, Siniard ran a patient, tactically brilliant race, moving up into third place (20:38) just before two miles.

With Eliza Witherspoon (1st – 18:54) and Ava Findlay (2nd – 19:13) well clear of the remaining field, that move gave Brevard the top three runners in the field and assured the Lady Devils of their second straight WNCAC championship.

"Those girls executed an absolutely perfect race," said head coach Phil Latter. "Eliza ran her fastest time in three years. There was no stopping her, but Ava did an amazing job sticking with her most of the race. Lillie was the revelation today. She's been through so much this season, but never stopped trying her hardest. It was nice to see it pay off at the biggest meet of the year thus far."

Siniard was far from the only runner having a great day. Julia Smith took seventh place in 21:11, while Alyssa Lefler (11th – 21:36) and Alydia Monahan (12th – 21:37) gave Brevard six of the top 12 runners in the field. Emma Dauster had a great race in 16th place (22:09), with Madeline Dierauf (22:39) and Dominique Karesh (24:40) rounding out Brevard's team.

Brevard ran away with the team title, scoring a low total of 24 points. Smoky Mountain was next closest with 66.

"Everyone who competed today laid it out there," Latter added. "The goal was to feel good today and great in a few weeks at regionals and state. If this is any indication, we're going to be in a great position moving forward."

The men's race featured more depth and drama up front, with a lead pack of six runners staying together through the first two miles. Noah Graham led from the gun, often joined up front by teammate Andrew Robinson. Hitting the final stretch on the Western Carolina track, it was down to Graham and West Henderson's Dylan Shamburger.

Befitting a guy with 4:17 mile speed, Graham sprinted away to a two-second victory in 16:08, with Robinson a few spots back in fourth (16:31).

Will Coye was the next man in 18th place (18:13), with freshman Dylan Sasser (30th – 19:06) and Noah Schoenacher (32nd – 19:13) rounding out the team score.

Brevard tied for fourth, but was given fifth after losing the tie-breaker to Smoky Mountain. West Henderson won the overall team title.

"That was a great race by Noah and Andrew," said Latter. "Noah has always been a guy who likes to sit back and sprint at the end, but here he got to see what it's like to control a race from start to finish. It's probably not his natural way of running, but he's really working hard on becoming a more versatile runner."

"The boys are still a very young team, other than the two seniors," added Latter. "We're kind of at this point where our season could go either way. Today was a big improvement on last year, but the team wants more. We'll see what we can make happen."

Both teams return to action at the 2A West Regional meet at Freedom High School on Saturday, Oct. 29.


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