The Transylvania Times -

Blue Devils Cross Country Locks Up Spot In State Finals


Last updated 1/18/2021 at 3:33pm

Members of the Brevard boys' and girls' cross country teams competed last week in the regional finals in Catawba, with both sides clinching spots in the state finals on Friday. Both teams came in third at regionals and will race one last time this Friday in Kernersville. (Photo courtesy of Ed Coye)

The pre-race huddle told it all. The boys were not jumping around nervously or exchanging laughs to keep the adrenaline at bay.

They were zeroed in, their eyes laser-focused. And when the gun fired, that focus and intensity took them from underdogs to state qualifiers over the span of 3.1 miles.

Facing the strongest field of the year, juniors Knox Witherspoon and Abdi Green settled into the chase pack, pushing the pace on the hilly Murray's Mill course in Catawba.

That venue had been an 11th-hour change after Mecklenburg County shut down their parks at noon on Friday; the change was announced less than 48 hours before race time. But the hills, rain and mud played to Brevard's strengths.

"I've never seen a group that relished all these changes and obstacles so much," said head coach Philip Latter. "A lot of credit goes to the upperclassmen and coaches Morgan and Witherspoon for empowering them to see these obstacles as an opportunity to put the team before self philosophy into action."

As Witherspoon (seventh – 17:05) and Green (ninth – 17:16) finished great races, freshman Noah McLauchlin (21st – 18:30) and sophomore Eli Snowden (18:42) were keeping the team score low.

McLauchlin's big kick lowered his score considerably, while Snowden ran the race of his life in 28th place. Sophomore Trey Galloway – No. 8 on the depth chart when the season started – placed fifth for the Blue Devils.

His 57th place finish secured Brevard a bid to state, with Jules Arbogast (61st – 20:21) and George Hensley (78th – 21:17) rounding out the scorers. Brevard defeated Owen by seven points for the final spot in a year where only three teams per region qualified.

"We knew Eli, Trey and Jules had another level in them, and today they showed it," Latter added. "Hearing we made it to state, with the smaller field size this year and not having our full roster, it was just surreal and so gratifying. I'm beyond proud of this squad."

The girls' race was no less dramatic. Knowing they had to hold off a strong Franklin team that had competed in the first heat, the Lady Devils were essentially racing both real life competitors and ghosts from the previous race.

After a great start, Lucy Murray led the Blue Devils with a 12th place finish in 20:56. Lily Rogers (23rd – 22:05), Erin Huter (24th – 22:15), and Emma Coye (31st – 23:08) came in next for Brevard.

Senait Richmond's 46th place finish in 24:00 was enough to pull the Blue Devils through in dramatic fashion, as their 124 points just edged out Franklin's 126. Julia-Grace ran a strong sixth position for Brevard in 25:33 (60th) to round out the team.

"They fought and fought and were rewarded for it," said Latter. "I think everyone was on edge waiting to hear if we got the final spot, and when we did the sense of relief was overwhelming. Hopefully, we're at full strength next week, but either way I'm super proud of them for rallying when we needed it most. Resilience is the key in this sport, and the girls showed it today. Now we get one more chance to define the season this Friday (Jan. 22) at state."


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