As the sun rose over Horry County on a cool, crisp day in October, something very interesting was happening in Braves country.
Socastee senior cross country runner Austin Poisson was manufacturing his most impressive, dominant performance of 2012, finishing with a time of 17:34.84 and locking up first place in the 2012 Horry County Championships.
The most interesting part? The biggest win of the season for the senior also happened to be his first of the year.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Poisson said. “I [wasn’t] even able to place last year. I wasn’t able to run this race because I was in the hospital, but it feels good to come back and be able to win this thing.”
Socastee also ran to the boys’ and girls’ team titles. The boys placed six in the top 10. Myrtle Beach freshman Madison Tilford claimed the girls’ individual title, finishing in 20:48.54.
Poisson led the field for most of the race and kept a steady pace throughout. It was nothing extraordinary, except for his finish.
“It was just another race,” Poisson said. “We always have a pretty good training program here at Socastee and we just stuck to it, worked hard.”
It all culminated into a successful day for Socastee, which saw Justin Knipper (second), Nicholas Koonce (fourth), William Vaught (fifth), Jake Perito (sixth) and Christopher Matlashewski (seventh) finish in the top 10 to pace the boys’ team. .
“It’s been a long time since they’ve [won the county meet] so it’s a nice little stepping stone,” Braves coach Joe Grega said. “We’ll just have to hopefully take a little bit of that momentum into the region meet. We just want to get better and better and better.”
Tilford, meanwhile, edged North Myrtle Beach’s Drake Jenerette who, along with her older sister Benjamin, tend to be at the front of the pack in most area meets. With Benjamin Jenerette sitting out the meet, it opened the door for her sister and the others, and Tilford took full advantage.
“I was right behind (Drake Jenerette) for the first mile or two until right before the second mile,” Tilford said. “Then I got out front and from there I just stayed out front until the end.”
In just a few words, Tilford summed up the entire experience perfectly: “It’s great, I don’t know. It feels awesome.”
Seahawks coach Casey Beck was ecstatic.
“Probably one of the most exciting things in my whole life,” Beck said. “It was unbelievable to see how hard she’s worked, and the payoff, you know, the Jenerettes are unbelievable runners, and to see a girl that just started running this year finish the way she did today was just unbelievable, I’m just so proud of her.”
It was a feat Beck didn’t see coming for the young runner – not yet at least.
“It’s surprising that she did win the entire race to me, just because she is a young runner and had never run this course in her life,” Beck said. “To come out here and blow the field away was very impressive. I knew deep down if she did her best she had all the potential in the world to win this thing, and any race she’s in.”
As for the race conditions? Poisson said the lower temperatures helped his pace. Tilford, meanwhile, would have preferred it be a little warmer.
Overall, though, the lower temps gave a nice feel to one of the area’s signature annual meets.
“Really a great opportunity to come out and run, beautiful weather,” Grega said. “Just a great day for cross country.”
–1. Socastee 39, 2. Myrtle Beach 54, 3. Conway 55, 4. North Myrtle Beach 89.
•Top 10 individuals
–1. Austin Poisson (S) 17:34.84, 2. Justin Knipper (S) 17:39.50, 3. Ethan Epstein (MB) 17:56.85, 4. Nicholas Koonce (S) 18:23.85, 5. William Vaught (S) 18:25.15, 6. Jake Perito (S) 18:35.50, 7. Christopher Matlashewski (S) 18:36.83, 8. Jared Woody (NMB) 18:38.53, 9. Mohrzad Namiranian (MB) 18:45.63, 10. Nicholas Sylvestri (MB) 18:55.69.
–1. Socastee 18, 2. Myrtle Beach 45, 3. Conway 87, 4. North Myrtle Beach 88.
•Top 10 individuals
–1. Madison Tilford (MB) 20:48.54, 2. Drake Jenerette (NMB) 21:06.30, 3. Crystal Shimer (S) 21:12.19, 4. Madilyn Crabil (C) 21:16.38, 5. Alyssa Weibel (C) 21:27.35, 6. Rebekah Booth (S) 21:38.38, 7. Kelley Flannelly (MB) 21:50.15, 8. Mary Beth Hervig (MB) 22:08.59, 9. Savannah Tolonese (S) 22:22.58, 10. Jill Dudley (S) 22:30.31.