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HENDERSONVILLE — As a 1-A program competing in a 1-A/2-A split conference, the Greenfield School boys cross-country team spent the lion’s share of the 2018 season under the radar, finishing deeper in the pack as larger programs filled the slots above the Knights.
But Friday morning at the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A championship meet, Greenfield did more than rise to radar range. In its first trip to the NCISAA 1-A championship, it returned fire. And when freshman Dane Reynolds crossed the line in 15th place as Greenfield’s third scoring runner, that was enough to clip Mooresville Woodlawn School by a single point, giving the Knights their first NCISAA cross-country title in their first appearance.
“We talked it about it last night,” second-year Greenfield coach Bruce Wall said. “It’s the first time going. We might as well win it!”
Greenfield did just that, behind the quartet of sophomore Will Powell, senior Jackson Stone, senior McGuire Metts and freshman Dane Renyolds. On a wet course at Jackson Park, Wall compared the proceedings to that of a mud run. The Knights were tardy for the official walkthrough Thursday, leaving the team to conduct its own reconnaissance mission later that night.
Of course, the skies opened up as Greenfield walked the course.
“When we walked it last night, we knew it would be raining in the morning and all night,” Powell said. “There were some hills on the back part. We just had to run through puddles of water.”
The first sign that it would be a Greenfield-Woodlawn duel for the championship came within the first two runners. Woodlawn sophomore Jackson McGeough was first to cross, winning the individual title in 19:46.62.
Powell was second, crossing in 20:15.78 — barely five seconds faster than Charlotte United Faith Christian junior Blake Gindle.
However, when the next two runners crossed, it was clear that it was anyone’s title to win. With NCISAA rules at the 1-A level scoring the top three runners only — higher classifications score more — Stone whisked across in fifth with a time of 20:41.67. Woodlawn’s Jesse Jacobson, a junior, came in at sixth with his time of 20:44.28.
That tied the team score between the two at 7, meaning that the next runner from either team to cross would secure the team title. Lee Christian, the other team cited as a threat by Wall, had fallen off the pace with a score of 18 after their first two finishers.
“We knew it was going to be really close,” Wall said.
But while Greenfield’s margin of victory on the scoreboard was a mere point, Reynolds’ hustle turned the margin on the course into a runaway. His 15th-place time was 21:38.11, which was over 46 seconds faster than Woodlawn’s third-place runner — 16th-place Ethan Mason in 22:24.98.
Greenfield 22, Woodlawn 23. Talk about radar lock.
“We ran a lot of 2-A meets, flying under the radar,” Wall said. “We didn’t show up on the meet sheets.”
Senior McGuire Metts finished 38th in the 46-runner field, representing the only Knight who was on the first Greenfield cross-country team five years ago. This year marked the first time Greenfield, a member of the split 1-A/2-A Coastal Plain Independents Conference, qualified enough runners to go to the state meet as a team. Wall said the 2018 Greenfield edition boasted 12 runners.
“It’s good because we’re the first team ever,” Powell said of winning a championship. “We’ll always be that first team to have a banner for cross-country. It’s a great feeling.”
As for Stone and Powell, Friday’s championship could well be the beginning of a two-title week. Both will play for Greenfield in Saturday’s NCISAA 1-A boys soccer championship against Neuse Christian on Forbes Field.
Led by sophomore Caleb Daniels, Community Christian School accrued 77 points for its top three runners. Daniels finished inside the top 10, logging a seventh-place finish in 20:45.46.
Following was junior Thomas Lane (29th, 24:42.53) and sophomore Johnathan Baran (41st, 28:33.17)
In the girls’ race, CCS compiled a score of 64 for its three scoring runners.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Manning was 16th in the 37-runner field, finishing in 26:48.44. She was followed by sophomore Olivia Walker (22nd, 29:20.10) and junior Katarina Medlin (26th, 31:13.18).
Led by individual winner Keegan Lisiecki, United Faith claimed three of the top four spots to seize the team title. Lisiecki, a freshman, won in 21:54.93.