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GREENSBORO — Wilson Christian cross-country coach Dwight Vanderboegh pointed the blame in one direction after the Lady Chargers fell short of claiming the North Carolina Christian School Association championship Thursday afternoon at Hagen-Stone Park.
With only six runners at WCA’s disposal, the Lady Chargers ended up having to count all of their participants after Alamance Christian and WCA deadlocked at 26 with their four scoring runners.
Therefore, the fifth competitor for each team had to be scored, which allowed Alamance to walk away with the title. The Lady Warriors produced a 29th-place finish from Kailyn Florence in 28:39.41 to edge Wilson Christian. Senior Brenda Reece, WCA’s fifth and final runner, crossed in 42nd for the Lady Chargers, recording a time of 32:39.12 for WCA’s fifth scoring runner.
Vanderboegh said that runners were left behind that possessed the capability to best the back of the Alamance lineup.
“I didn’t take enough runners,” Vanderboegh lamented. “I didn’t go deep enough with the developmental team. The lesson I learned is I want to take more runners next year for the unknown, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Even so, misfortune on the course haunted Wilson Christian. Senior Jenna Varnell, a mainstay at the top of the Wilson Christian running order, fell ill around the 2-mile mark and could not finish the race. That was a significant blow to the Lady Chargers, who outpointed Alamance 18-29 just one week prior on the same course. That was with a healthy Varnell in the lineup, and WCA’s top four swept the Nos. 3-6 positins 24 seconds apart.
However, the pack mentality helped Wilson Christian forge a tie through the fourth-place runner with Alamance.
With the Lady Chargers marching positions six through nine across the finish line, Wilson Christian was able to offset the Lady Warriors, who produced first- and third-place finishes. After the customary top four runners finished, Alamance and Wilson Christian were tied at 26.
Therefore, the championship was decided by the team’s fifth-place runner.
Lexington Union Grove (50), Greensboro Vandalia Christian (63), Wilmington Christian (67), Cramerton Christian (98), and Fayetteville Berean Baptist Academy (103) rounded out the field.
Wilson Christian scored the quartet of senior Ashley Hardy (24:00.87), senior Katie Glover (24:19.13), eighth grader Holland Miller (24:30.60) and freshman Ocean Reece (24:32.27) in the Nos. 6-9 positions. All four earned All-State honors for finishing in the top 10.
Lucia Gandhi won the individual title for Alamance Christian, finishing in a time of 21:49.78. Taylor Burgess finished fourth in 23:32.24 to supplement the Lady Warriors.
In the boys’ race, Wilson Christian was denied a championship repeat with a runner-up finish.
Host Vandalia Christian produced the top two runners in the 81-competitor field to lead the way with 36 points. Wilson Christian’s 42 was second, followed by Wilmington Christian (44), Alamance Christian (59), Lexington Union Grove (76), Fayetteville Berean Baptist Academy (101), Cornerstone Christian (113), Goldsboro Faith Christian (143), Cramerton Christian (154) and Monroe Shining Light Baptist Academy (188). Last week’s tune-up race at Hagen-Stone had the Chargers dropping a slim 25-28 decision to front-running Vandalia.
Three Wilson Christian runners finished inside the top 10 to attain all-state status, including seventh grader Lin Scott (6th, 19:55.76), eighth grader Seth Trull (8th, 20:33.26) and senior soccer player Jackson Hoskins (9th, 20:50.49). Briceson Martin, a seventh grader, had a 19th-place showing in 21:48.14 to round out the Chargers’ scoring runners.
The youth in WCA’s lineup left Vanderboegh encouraged for the future.
“It’s hard to win against veteran runners,” he reasoned.
Chase Ramey of Vandalia won the boys individual championship in 18:48.50.