Pelion and Gilbert did nothing to adversely tarnish its respective standings as Top 10 cross country programs in Class 2A Saturday at the annual Coaches Classic Invitational meet at Sandhills Research Park.
In both cases, the boys and girls teams from both schools turned in performances that should maintain their footings in the rankings. Pelion’s girls were ranked fourth in the Class 2A coaches poll that was released three days prior to the Classic, while the Panthers boys were 10th. Gilbert’s boys were ranked seventh, the girls 10th.
The Pelion girls had the highest finish of the group. The Panthers placed 11th in the Championship Division with eight-grader Nevada Minard in the forefront. Minard, who was fourth at the 2A state finals last season as a rookie, finished eighth at the Coaches Classic with a time of 20:33.
Minard still has some ground to make up in her quest for a state title in 2008. She finished 24 seconds behind defending champion Caroline Jennings of Christ Church and nine seconds behind Bishop England’s Jeanne Stroud. Jennings and Stroud are two of the three returning runners that finished ahead of Minard at state last fall.
All five of Pelion’s scoring runners finished in the upper half of the field of 309 runners. Freshman Morgan Payne was second on the team (56th, 22:33), followed by junior Anna Garcia (86th, 23:08), eighth-grader Patricia Garcia (93rd, 23:19 and sophomore Becky Walker (142nd, 24:16).
The Girls boys edged Pelion at the Classic, just as they did earlier in the week at the Lexington County Championships. The Indians scored 603 points at the Classic, good for 22nd place. Pelion finished with 676 points and in 25th place.
Junior Ben Watkins was the pacesetter for Gilbert with a time of 17:59 and a 33rd-place finish. Junior Brian Provost (72nd, 18:44), seventh-grader Trevor Black (109th, 19:19), freshman Matthew Helm (20:44) and seventh-grader Aubrey Hite (20:46) were the other scoring runners.
Junior Jake Walker was Pelion’s top runner, finishing 46th in 18:22. Junior Zane Tharp (111th, 19:20) and sophomore Brandon Earwood (144th, 19:54) also finished in the upper half of the field. Junior Craig Bennett (20:38) and senior Joseph Vucolo (20:42) also contributed to the team score.
Gilbert’s girls, with only five runner in the lineup, placed 30th with 789 points.
Eighth-grader Lexi Kalec (65th, 22:39) and freshman Brooke Craft (143rd, 24:17) finished in the upper half of the field. Junior Jessica Taylor (24:27), sophomore Eryn Price (26:06 and sophomore Mary Kate McGowan (29:08) were the other Indians entries.