Saturday’s Class 4A state boys cross country state championship at Clemson Research Park is shaping up as a potential duel between Midlands rivals Ridge View and Lexington.
Ridge View edged Lexington 42-44 at last week’s Middle State qualifying meet with the ultimate difference being at the back of the scoring pack where Blazer Jay Lynch finished 16th, two spots ahead of Wildcat freshman Blake White.
As a result, Ridge View was reinstalled as the No. 1 team in the latest SCTCCCA poll released on Tuesday, while Lexington moved up from fourth to second. Dorman, which replaced the Blazers in the No. 1 position a few weeks ago, dropped to No. 4 after finishing second to Fort Mill at the Upper State qualifier.
Joe Keitt and David Jennings set the tone for Ridge View, finishing in the top two spots with national elite times. Keitt’s winning mark was 16:03.53, while Jennings checked in at 16:10.69. Raeven Lantz (9th, 16:47.88), Mike Lantz (14th, 17:06.22) and Lynch (16th, 17:07.12) rounded out the Blazers scoring lineup.
Drew Harris and Colby Coulter led the Wildcats with national elite times. Harris finished third ion 16:20.88 and Coulter was fifth at 16:28.60. Will Belue (7th, 16:40.25), Jay Lloyd (11th, 17:04.22) and White (18th, 17:07.97) accounted for the rest of Lexington’s team points.
Neither team has won a state championship, which makes the local angle on Saturday even more compelling. Ridge View has been a Top 10 fixture since the school opened in 1995 and put together runner-up performances in 2001 and 2004. Lexington, on the other hand, has only four Top 10 finishes since 1992. The Wildcats’ best-ever state showing was a fifth-place effort in 1997.
Dutch Fork, Irmo and Spring Valley earned the three other state invitations.
Roland Hakes led sixth-ranked Dutch Fork with a fourth-place finish and a national elite time of 16:22.82. Andrew Jordan was the frontrunner for seventh-ranked Irmo, finishing eighth in 16:43.53. Matt Johnson (13th, 17:05.91) was leaded for unranked Spring Valley.
On the girls side, Lexington continued its recent mastery of Dutch Fork. The youthful Wildcats scored a convincing 34-57 win over the Silver Foxes, allowing them to jump ahead of DF in the latest rankings. Lexington enters the state meet at No. 7 in the 4A pecking order, while Dutch Fork slipped one spot to eighth.
The trend was the same in individual matters. Lexington seventh-grader Haylee Love beat out Dutch Fork seniors Samantha Hughes and Michelle Arms at the finish line. All three posted national elite times. Love clocked in at 19:17.76, followed by Hughes (19:23.76) and Arms (19:33.38).
Freshmen Meri Hennage (5th, 20:04.42) and Val Feliciano (8th, 20:38.98), junior Beka Rush (9th, 20:40.62) and seventh-grader Katlin Killman (11th, 20:46.68) lined up in support of Love.
Irmo, Spring Valley and Blythewood also emerged as state qualifiers.
Sophomore Savannah Radenbaugh helped Irmo to a third-place team finish with a national elite time of 19:42.53. Emily Bakaj (7th, 20:10.51) was the top Spring Valley runner. Sophomore Claire Stephan (27th, 22:08.49) and eighth-grader Kendra Burkhardt (33rd, 22:42.80) were key to Blythewood returning to state after missing the cut last season.