Essic, Sulecki punch tickets to state cross country meet
Published 10:32 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2022
Kernersville’s Ivey Redmon Park was the site of the Midwest 4-A Regional cross country meet on Saturday. The region featured 29 schools from four conferences stretching across Guilford, Forsyth, Davie, Iredell, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union Counties.
Known by coaches across the state as the Region of Death due to the large number of quality teams, the participating squads were hoping to be among the seven schools to advance to the state championship meet. Defending state champion Mt. Tabor narrowly edged Marvin Ridge by three points for the boys’ team title with 57 points. Marvin Ridge (60), Weddington (99), Cuthbertson (161), Lake Norman (180), Reagan (186) and West Forsyth (191) all punched their ticket to the state meet. The Davie boys placed 11th with 277 points. Weddington’s Caden Townsend was the individual winner in 15:31 to easily outpace RJ Gajan of Marvin Ridge by 20 seconds.
In addition to the team competition, a fierce battle was waged to see who would be among the top seven individuals not on qualifying teams who would also advance to the state meet. Davie sophomore Thomas Essic and senior teammate Owen Sulecki finished among those top seven and will represent the War Eagles at Saturday’s state event. Essic was 24th overall in a new personal record time of 16:54. Sulecki was right behind in 26th place with a PR of 16:56.
Sophomore Tyler Hill was the next War Eagle harrier across the line in 37th place (17:13). Freshman Ethan Lakey was 85th in 18:12, while fellow freshman Logan Zuleger was 106th in 18:39. Another freshman, Brayden Kistner, also turned in a personal best time of 19:09. Junior Will Allard rounded out the Davie effort with a time of 19:31.
“Thomas and Owen ran exceptional races,” said coach Rob Raisbeck. “We thought we had three runners who were capable of making it to states. I told them they would have to run low 16:50’s and be in the top 25-27 range to get in. That is exactly what happened. Jeff (Jones) and I were telling them throughout the race where they were place-wise and they executed the race plan perfectly. Tyler was right there with a mile to go, and I know he is disappointed for himself but happy for his teammates.
“In the team race, we came in as the 13th-best team on paper, but I thought we could be top 10 if everything fell our way. We probably had the youngest team in the meet with two sophomores and two freshmen scoring for us, so we can’t be disappointed with our team finish, especially since we had two individual qualifiers. The CPC again showed how tough our conference is as we took five of the top 11 spots.”
The girls’ race featured top-five nationally ranked Cuthbertson, which put on quite a show as it placed five in the top 10 to win the title with 26 points. A total of six teams advanced to the state meet, including runner-up Marvin Ridge (99), Weddington (106), Tabor (131), West Forsyth (135) and Reynolds (174). Davie was 21st with 573. Chandler Welsh of Reynolds was the individual champion in 17:52 and was followed by a trio of Cuthbertson runners.
Junior Gracie Spicer was the top Davie finisher as she claimed 89th place in 22:50. Freshman Lexi Marion was next across the line and was followed by sophomore Raelyn Lankford and then four more War Eagle freshmen: Clara Phelps, Riley McNeil, Emilia Marks and Stella Frye.
“This was an eye-opening experience for our girls,” said Raisbeck. “We raced five freshmen today and this is by far the most talented competition they have faced. Hopefully they will learn from this experience and continue to improve over the course of their running careers.”
The state meet will be Nov. 6 at Ivey Redmon Park. The 4-A boys will race at 9:40 a.m. “Hopefully we will have a big turnout of Davie fans to cheer on Thomas and Owen,” said Raisbeck.