Essic, Lakey earn berths to state cross country meet

Published 12:47 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Davie cross country team travelled to Kernersville’s Ivey Redmon Sports Complex on Saturday for the 4-A Midwest Regional. With 28 schools, the region once again demonstrated that it is not only the largest of the state’s four regions but is also the most competitive. Based on a formula of the number of competing teams, the top six boys teams and top five girls teams advanced to the Nov. 4 state championship meet. In addition, the top seven individuals who were not on qualifying teams also punched their ticket to the championship race.

The Davie boys turned in an eighth-place effort and had stellar individual efforts from Thomas Essic (12th place in 16:25) and Ethan Lakey (15th in 16:31) as each advanced to the state final. Lakey’s time was a personal record by 11 seconds. Cuthbertson’s Thomas Wlazlowski raced to the individual title in 15:37 to outpace Reagan’s Tate Shore (15:47) and Marvin Ridge’s David Firestone (15:59). In addition to Essic and Lakey, CPC rivals Cedar Nichols-Barnhart  and Andrew York, representing Reynolds, also advanced as individuals.

Marvin Ridge easily took the team title with 50 points and was followed by Reagan (105), Cuthbertson (131), Weddington (134), Mt. Tabor (139) and Grimsley (169). West Cabarrus narrowly missed advancing as it claimed seventh place (194) and was followed by Davie (251). Reynolds and West Forsyth placed 10th and 11th  to give the CPC five of the top 11 teams among the four conferences represented.

For Davie, Essic and Lakey positioned themselves well from the gun as the War Eagle duo ran together throughout the 5k race and easily secured their spots at the state meet.

Brayden Kistner was the next Davie runner as his time of 17:45 was a three-second PR and landed him in 59th place among 172 finishers. Aric Boles was 73rd in 18:05, while Tyler Hill rounded out the Davie scoring with a 93rd place finish in 18:35. Logan Zuleger (19:06) and Jacob Steelman (19:15) also competed for the War Eagles.

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The Davie girls finished 18th with a score of 511. The young Davie team fielded a squad of four sophomores and two freshmen.

Leading the way for Davie was Clara Phelps, who placed 86th with a time of 22:58. She was followed by Lexi Marion (93rd in 23:15), Emilia Marks (97th in 23:25), Isabella Schilling (126th in 26:02), Kinsley Shinsky (133rd in 27:01) and Bridget Wood (129th in 28:04). Marks’ time was a huge personal best and was the first time she had gone under 24:00.

Tabor cruised to victory with 42 points to defeat defending state champion Cuthbertson (66), Marvin Ridge (77), Weddington (127) and West Forsyth (171). Due to several teams not showing up for the race, including two teams from the CPC, Reagan’s sixth place finish (205) was not good enough to advance.

Tabor’s Bronwyn Parks (17:49) and Joiner Evans (17:59) took top honors over Cuthbertson’s Charlotte Bell (18:00) and Reynolds’ Chandler Welsh (18:02). Welsh and Reagan’s Kate Henderson (18:43) will represent the CPC as individuals at the state meet.

“Given all of the adversity we have experienced this fall, I think we ran about as well as we could,” said coach Rob Raisbeck. “Cross country is a sport where seniors dominate and we had no seniors among our 13 competitors today. Thomas and Ethan are having great seasons and I think they will represent Davie very well at states. Brayden finished his season on a high note with a new PR as he has improved by well over a minute from his freshman year last year. Aric was only 10 seconds off of his PR, but he has improved by almost two full minutes from last year.

“Tyler gave us everything he had Saturday. He was really sick leading up to the meet and couldn’t train for two weeks. It was miraculous that he was able to race. Tyler is kind of our X factor. For us get where we want to be next year, he will be one of the guys we will be depending on. Logan is another guy who really was not able to train for six weeks due to injury but has loads of talent. If we can get a full year from him where he remains healthy and he buys in, he is as talented as anybody we have. Jacob was our only freshman in the lineup this fall and gained valuable experience. He has a chance to really help us next year if he focuses on training consistently.

“I was really proud of how our girls hung in there this fall. We dealt with a lot of injuries all season, going back to the summer. We will lose Gracie Spicer, who did not compete Saturday, but everybody else returns. We need to get Lexi healthy and Clara and Emilia showed great improvement late in the year. Isabella also battled injuries but is healthy now. I also want to give a shout-out to our freshmen, Kinsly and Bridget. They did not join us until September and had no background in cross country. They did some good things for us, and with a full year of training I expect them to make big contributions next season and beyond.

“We have a really bright future. This year our top five boys had an average time of 17:05, which is our best in our eight years as a coaching staff. Our previous best was 17:14 from last year.  It may be the best Davie has ever had and is a full 90-second-per-runner faster than our first year. With no seniors in our top eight, we will shatter that next year if the guys continue to train hard, train smart and stay focused. For our girls, we need to get healthy and keep  them motivated.  That is our job as coaches. And honestly, we need more numbers. What we do is hard and it’s not for everybody. But the rewards are great. We are excited for what lies ahead.”