Lexington’s boys cross country team is still stinging from a late-season, injury-induced collapse that cost them a shot at finishing in the Top 10 at the Class 4A state meet and keep hold of a region championship. The Wildcats are out to make amends in 2008.
“Because of injuries, we did not have a good state meet, and hopefully we’ll come back strong this year because we have an experienced team,” said coach Bailey Harris, who is entering his sixth season as the LHS boys coach after a seven-year stint running the Wildcats girls program. “Our top goals are to win back the region championship and make a run at the Top 10 at state.”
Harris said the program is very healthy with an influx of young, middle school-age runners that has swelled the team rolls to 34 members.
The Wildcats finished second to South Aiken in Region 3-4A a year ago after claiming the title in 2006. South Aiken has since moved down to 3A, and Lexington figures to battle Irmo and Dutch Fork for first place in new-look Region 5-4A. The region also includes former 3-4A members White Knoll, Aiken and North Augusta, along with Richland Northeast and Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
Lexington’s shot at Top 10 state glory went by the books when top runners Will Belue and Drew Harris were hit by late injuries. Belue and Harris, both juniors, figure to be the Wildcats front runners in 2008. They are both entering their fourth varsity seasons. Senior David Wilson, junior Brian Gillespie and senior Aditya Bhonsole also return from last season’s starting state lineup. Veteran Chris Fryland has opted not to run in his senior year, but sophomore Jay Lloyd returns to the fold after helping LHS bag the region title in 2006.
The Wildcats open the season on Sept. 3 at Chapin and will run in the Eye Opener meet in Spartanburg on Sept. 6. Next up is the annual Lexington County Championships on Sept. 10.