High School Sports

September 7, 2012

Cross country notebook

Lexington's top-ranked boy and girls teams are ready for the first major test of the season at the Coaches Classic event in northeast Columbia.

The Midlands spotlight will be on Lexington. The Wildcats boys team is heavily favored to become the first Class 4A team to win four straight state championships. Lexington made it three in a row in 2011 to match the previous runs of glory by Mauldin (1983-85) and Irmo (1977-79). The all-time record for consecutive championships is 11 by Riverside in 3A (1987-97). If Lexington pulls it off in early November, it would match the second longest reign in state history by T.L. Hanna (1981-84 in 3A).

The Lexington girls have been inching closer to the top spot in recent years under coach Catherine Lempesis. The Wildcats have risen from ninth (2009), to fifth (2010), to the runner-up spot last season. Will 2012 mark the final step?

Lexington dominated in its first outing of the season, sweeping Lexington County Championship honors on August 29.

Lexington runners occupied seven of the top eight sports in the boys division. Leading the way were four returning all-state runners – Tony Morales (1st, 15:22.73), Zack Langston (2nd, 15:43.51), Blake White (3rd, 16:14.26) and Erik Wendt (4th, 16:17.17). Thomas Harris (6th, 17:16.90) rounded out the scoring lineup, but Hunter Janus (7th, 17:19.33) and Dane Szalwinski (8th, 17:26.41) underscored the Wildcats’ enviable depth. The only seniors in the group are White and Wendt.

Senior Woody Lynn ran as an unaffiliated entry, and he was good enough to finish in 10th place.

The Wildcats finished with a near-perfect team score of 16 points. Dutch Fork was a distant second with 55 points.

DF senior Chris Stafford was the only non-Lexington entry to crack the top eight. He was fifth with a time of 16:36.71.

On the girls side, Airport senior Megan Stahlberger, who fell disappointingly short in her quest for a state title last fall, was the run-away individual winner with a time of 18:49.65. Dutch Fork freshman Hope Whisman was second in 19:09.04.

Lexington ruled the team standings, closing with a 26-53 edge over second-place Chapin. Meri Heneage (3rd, 19:47.40), Haylee Love (4th, 19:52.69), Katelin Killman (5th, 20:00.14), Sarah Jennings (6th, 20:02.95) and Bari Robinson (8th, 20:24.84) were the scoring runners. Heneage, Killman and Robinson were all-state runners last year.

Closing the gap on Wando is the season goal. Lexington hope to challenge for the championship a year ago, but finished a distant second (68-95) to the Warriors. Wando has claimed two of the last three big-school titles.

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