Fourth-ranked Ridge View geared up for the race of the season by finishing first at the Class 4A Mid-State boys cross country qualifying meet at Sandhills Research Park.
The Blazers, who have never won a state championship, figure to duel defending champion Wando, Dorman and Summerville for the big-school title on Saturday at Sandhills. With sophomores David Jennings and Joseph Keitt at the head of the pack, RV produced a 38-85 winning margin over runner-up Lexington.
Jennings was the individual champion with a national elite time of 16 minutes, 27.72 seconds, while Keitt was second at 16:42.14. Nick Gladden, the only senior in the starting lineup, and sophomore Jay Lynch also cracked the Top 10. Gladden finished seventh in 17:08.82, while Lynch was eighth in 17:09.28. Sophomore Ty’re Ware placed 20th with a time of 17:38.01 to close out the Blazers scoring.
The girls team missed the state meet cut, but senior Sierra Henderson will be on hand as an individual entry and is expected to make a strong bid to become the school’s first solo champion of either gender.
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For the past two weeks, Henderson has finished second to pre-race favorite Hannah Robinson of Rock Hill. Robinson clocked in with an impressive 18:47.85 on the state meet course. Henderson had a 19:09.22. Robinson also beat Henderson by nearly one full minute at the Region 4-4A championship meet on Oct. 23 with a time of 18:57.80.
Henderson, however, has the ability to go well below 19 minutes. She had a personal record time of 18:43.0 at the Wendy’s Invitational in Charlotte on Oct. 4 and went 18:51.0 at state last year. The Blazers standout beat Robinson at the Wendy’s gathering. Henderson was the top South Carolina entry with a third-place finish, while Robinson was fifth.
Robinson and Henderson are the top returning runners from the 2007 field. The Rock Hill ace was fourth at the 4A finals last season, one spot ahead of Henderson.