Lexington’s four-year reign in Class 4A boy cross country came to an end Saturday at Sandhills Research Park, but Wildcats senior star Zach Langston had something to celebrate.
Langston won his first individual state championship, but the Wildcats fell to eighth place in the team standings.
“It was a tough day for us, but that’s running,” Lexington coach Bailey Harris said. “We were low on depth coming in, and we had our No. 2 guy fall at 21/2 miles when he was in the top 25. I’m really happy for Zach. He’s had a great career, and he gets his first win in his last race.”
Langston planned to make a run at establishing a course record (15:05) and perhaps break 15 minutes, but he was never able to get into a groove while being closely shadowed by North Augusta’s Nik O’Brien for more than two miles. He clocked in at 15:27.
“I got out to the start I wanted at one and two miles, but I couldn’t shake Nik in time to maybe slow down a little and relax,” Langston said. “I ran out of gas and was just happy to finally get the win.”
Former teammate Tony Morales, the defending 4A champion and an all-state contributor on three Lexington championship teams, was denied another championship while running for first-year River Bluff.
Morales shadowed Daniel’s Gabe Haughey for more than two miles in the 3A race, but fell off the pace down the stretch. Haughey finished at 15:17. It was the fastest run of the day, the second-fastest in 3A on the Sandhills course and the fourth-fastest overall in 3A annals.
Morales closed in 15:26, which was one second slower than his winning time in 4A last season.
Spring Valley and Blythewood had good showings in 4A.
Spring Valley, led by Jack Timmerman (ninth), returned to the top 10 after an absence of two years. The Vikings finished in fourth place.
Senior Mike Lantz placed fourth individually to help Blythewood crack the top 10 for the first time. The Bengals tallied an all-time best state score of 237 points, good for a ninth- place finish.
Lantz retires as a four-time all-state runner, earning two spots at Blythewood after starting his career with two top-10 runs while attending Ridge View.
Westwood was the leading Midlands 3A entry. The second-year Redhawks checked in ninth with 322 team points.
Pelion had the best team showing among Midlands teams. The Panthers finished in third place in Class 2A with all-state runners Aubrey Hite (10th) and Hudson Martin (14th) leading the way.