A year ago, the Ridge View boys cross country team entered the annual Coaches Classic meet ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and second to 3A Hilton Head in the all-classification rankings.
The Blazers prevailed that day to achieve No. 1 status in both polls for the rest of the regular season. Ridge View, however, came up short in the only rankings that matter – finishing second to Lexington in the big-school state championship race at the end of the season.
Perhaps the slight variation in the results at the most recent Coaches Classic on Saturday at Sandhills Research Park bodes well for the Blazers in their bid to at last take that final set up on the state winner’s stand. Ridge View again led all Class 4A entries, finishing second in the blue-chip International Division. The one difference was the Blazers placed second behind Hilton Head, leaving all the pressure on the Seahawks’ wings.
Senior Joe Keitt, who finished second individually in 4A a year ago behind Fort Mill superstar Mark Blackmon, established himself as the man to beat this season with a winning time of 15 minutes, 49 seconds – 14 seconds faster than runner-up Jack Felix of Hilton Head. Blackmon will not be a factor, having transferred to a private school in North Carolina.
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Keitt had plenty of support. Freshman Mike Lantz finished ninth (16:19), followed by senior veterans David Jennings (10th, 16:33), Raeven Lantz (32nd, 17:06) and Jay Lynch (35th, 17:10).
The Lantz brothers have stepped it up this season.
“Raeven and Mike really trained hard over the summer, and all that work, all those miles run in the heat of summer is paying off,” said coach Brian Rosefield.
“Overall, I thought we had a good meet. A lot of our runners had personal records, and that’s always a good thing.”
Mike Lantz has improved so dramatically, he has a great shot at joining Keitt and Jennings on the all-state team this season.