HIGH POINT — It was a good starting point for three High Point cross-country teams.
Southwest Guilford won both individual titles, Wesleyan Christian captured both team victories and High Point Christian posted some strong finishes to highlight Thursday’s Rumble at the Ridge at Wesleyan’s Sandy Ridge course.
“It felt great,” Wesleyan coach Dusty Lucas said. “Our girls looked really, really strong. I’ve been coaching cross-country for nine years here and for the first time we have more girls than guys.
“We have a surplus of girls — which is a great problem to have. And the guys did well too because our No. 1 runner (Jones Barber) was injured and didn’t run today. So our top runner didn’t even run, which is really strong for our guys.”
Wesleyan won the boys team total with 35 points. Southwest followed with 39, trailed by HPCA with 48. Wesleyan won the girls team total with 26 points, followed by Southwest with 37 points and HPCA with 59.
Wesleyan finished with all five of its runners inside the top 10 in the boys race and five of its six runners in the top 10 in the girls race to capture both team titles for the first time in at least a decade.
“It’s all about numbers in cross-country,” Lucas said. “The more you can group in the top half of a race, the better off you are as a team. Because if you have one person finish No. 1, but then your next group doesn’t come in until 30-35 a lot of times that may kill your team score.”
Southwest’s Meseret Tsegay won the boys race in 18:31 — almost a minute and a half clear of second-place Cole Johnson from HPCA. Tsegay said his goal is to clear 18 minutes, so it was a fine start in the first meet of the season.
“It was my first race, so I just went out there and did my best,” Tsegay said. “I didn’t give it all I had because I didn’t really have anybody to run with. I feel pretty good. I want to break 18 minutes this year with more competition. So, I think it was a pretty good start for the first race. And I’m hoping for a big improvement.”
Johnson took second in 19:59, followed by Southwest’s Benjamin Runner (21:46) and Micah Burkett (21:53). Wesleyan’s Jonathan Ray (23:46) led a string of five straight Trojan runners that keyed their team effort.
Jacob Simpson (24:17), Tevin Dobson (24:38), Judah Reitnour (24:43) and Sawyer Williams (24:45) finished consecutively for Wesleyan before HPCA’s Brennan Basil (25:21) crossed in 10th place.
In the girls race, Southwest’s Isabel Davis won in 22:57 — over a minute and a half clear of second-place Bailey LaRue from Wesleyan. Southwest also got top-10 finishes from Faith Thomas (third, 25:17) and Taylor Hudges (10th, 30:30).
“It’s excellent,” Southwest coach Phoebe Baker said. “I think we came out here and accomplished what we wanted to today. We had some good runs and, for many of these runners, it’s their first race. And the fact that we had so many finish near the top was very rewarding — not just for us but for the kids. …
“Isabel definitely stepped up. She’s a great runner and it was awesome to see her have a shining moment out here. We expect good things from Isabel this season. She’s running well.”
But it was the consistency from Wesleyan that won out, as it got top-10 finishes from LaRue (second, 24:45), Jenna Griffin (fourth, 26:08), Joi Norman (fifth, 26:08), Ava Nicholson (seventh, 28:50) and Fiona Konig (eighth, 29:20).
HPCA had a number of strong finishes as well — including Johnson and Basil in the boys race and Morgan Hartman (sixth, 26:35) and Taylor Lilly (ninth, 29:29) in the girls race.
“We’re still getting in shape — it’s an early meet,” HPCA coach Heather Foster said. “So we’re working on conditioning. It’s a good first race as a baseline. I think we’re a little further along than we were this time last year. We’re still really young, but we’re developing and getting there.”
Southwest will next run Wednesday against RJ Reynolds at Southwest, while Wesleyan will run again Saturday, Aug. 27, in the Carolinas Kickoff at Metrolina Christian. HPCA will next run Sept. 8 at Fisher Park in Greensboro.