Essic, Lakey run to all conference

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The Davie cross country team made the familiar trek to Kernersville’s Ivey Redmond Park Oct. 18 for the CPC championships and returned home with 16 all-time personal records or season best performances among its 26 competitors.

The War Eagle boys captured third place, while the girls took fifth. Meanwhile, Thomas Essic and Ethan Lakey raced to top 10 individual performances and all-conference recognition.

In a bit of an anomaly for a sport dominated by seniors, the top four boys finishers were juniors. Reagan’s Tate Shore claimed the individual title as he led from start to finish and crossed the line in 15:54 over the 5k distance. Reynolds’ Cedar Nichols-Barnhart was the runner-up in 16:08, while Essic led the Davie effort in third with a new PR of 16:12. Teammate Ethan Lakey was the top sophomore in the race and claimed seventh place with a time of 16:43, just a second off of his all-time best.

Aric Boles raced to a 16-second PR as his time of 17:55 landed hm in 22nd. Logan Zuleger was 29th with a 14-second PR of 18:15. The final Davie scorer was Brayden Kistner, who placed 31st in 18:21. Freshman Jacob Steelman continued a season in which he has improved his time in every race this season. His time of 18:38 was good for 37th place. Jackson Sulecki followed in 41st with a PR of 19:00. Will Allard was next in 53rd place with a season best time of 19:27. The young Davie squad had no seniors in its top seven.

Also competing for the Davie harriers were Chris Devicento in 54th (19:35), Jack Bost with a personal best performance in 68th place (20:27), Slade Keaton in 72nd place (20:41), Ty Greene with a 75th place finish and a PR of 20:52, Tyler Deaver, who placed 82nd in 22:04, and Caswell Moore, who had a season best time of 22:25 that was good for 84th place.

In the team competition, Reagan dethroned perennial champion Mt. Tabor by a single point with a thrilling 45-46 victory. Both teams posted identical average team times of 16:52, with the difference being Shore’s individual victory overcoming Mt. Tabor’s  depth. Davie was third with 82 points to outdistance Reynolds (96) and West Forsyth (100).

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The Davie girls were led by Lexi Marion’s 29th place finish in a season best time of 22:19. Teammate Gracie Spicer placed 32nd in 22:30.

The Next six Davie finishers all established new personal record times. Clara Phelps was 37th in 22:44, Emilia Marks claimed 47th in 24:07, Kinsley Shinsky placed 53rd in 25:23, Isabella Schilling took 60th in 25:59 and Bridget Wood was 63rd in 26:51. Rounding out the Davie effort was Hayden Smith with a PR of 33:56, Alexa Villa in 34:15 and Maggie Smith in 35:56.

Tabor ran away with the team title with 25 points to easily defeat second place West Forsyth (60), Reynolds (66), Reagan (80) and Davie (153). Reynolds senior Chandler Welsh claimed the individual title in 17:53 to defeat a trio of Mt. Tabor runners led by Bronwyn Parks in 18:06.

Davie coach Rob Raisbeck reflected on the Davie effort after the meet.

“We overcame a lot of adversity today and ran as well as we possibly could,” said Raisbeck. “We learned this morning that our number three, Tyler Hill, would not be available for the race. That meant a lot of young guys had to step up. We knew Thomas and Ethan would give us what we needed up front and they did not disappoint. Aric, Logan and Brayden came through for us with a couple of big PR’s out of those guys. I was afraid we might fall to fifth with Tyler out but we did what we had to do to secure the third spot.

“Our girls had by far their best performance of the year,” said Raisbeck. “Six weeks ago I wasn’t sure we could field a team. We had three healthy girls I was confident could break 30 minutes. But we got healthy at the right time and the girls worked really hard to improve their conditioning. Gracie is our only senior and everybody else is a freshman or sophomore so we need to keep working hard and get an influx of talent from the middle schools. This time next year we will be an even better team.”

Championship season continues Oct. 28 as the team returns to Ivey Redmond for the 4-A Midwest Regional.

“There will be 29 teams from our region trying to qualify for states the following week. Based on the formula the state uses there will be six or seven teams advance on the boys’ side and five or six girls’ teams,” said Raisbeck. “If we are able to put our full line-up out there and we are healthy the guys have a shot to make it but we will need our top five to all run their best race. We will find out what we are made of in a few days.”      

Notes: The top 18 made all-conference. Essic made it for the second time, after finishing 12th at 16:59 in 2022. Lakey made all-CPC after being the league’s top freshman in 2022 at 17:29.