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The Lancaster High School cross country team had a solid finish at the Class AAAA state meet at the Sandhills Research Center in Columbia on Saturday.
Bruins’ senior runner Wylie Penegar capped his LHS cross country career with a 42nd finish out of 128 runners in the state.
Penegar’s 17:08 was his best-ever effort in four appearances in the state meet.
“Wylie has had a great cross country career as a Bruin,” LHS coach Josh Pauling said. “The best time from his career was a 16:54. To make it to the state championship meet four years in a row is very difficult, and we are proud of him and his accomplishments throughout his years here.”
Penegar qualified for the state meet with a 20th place out of 120 runners at the state qualifying meet at the Sandhills Research Center the previous week.
The LHS boys, who were 16-10 this season, placed 11th out of 17 teams at the state qualifier.
The LHS girls made history as the first Lady Bruins team to qualify for the state with a No. 3 finish out of 17 teams in the state qualifier.
LHS continued to produce on the state level, placing 12th overall.
The Lady Bruins, who finished 20-3, were led by JeNae Jones, No. 43 out of 128 with a time of 20:19.
The LHS girls averged 21:22.80 in the 5K run.
Jones had plenty of help from LHS teammate Jennell Jones (21:22), Jazmyne Jones (21:46), Reagan Latham (21:39), Brooke Penegar (21:48), Tyson Blanton (22:44) and Eden Christopher (22:23).
“Their outstanding performances put us in 12th place in the state,” Pauling said. “We were very pleased with this outcome for this year. Six out of our seven runners had their personal best times, beating their times from last week by a significant amount. Our team average time dropped another 20 seconds from last week. This is very difficult to do, but they ran a great race. They were mentally prepared to dig deeper than they ever had before, and it paid off. The great news is all these girls are freshmen and sophomores.
“Now that they have a taste of success at the state level, they will have the drive to improve on this each year,” Pauling said. “One of the greatest parts of the year was seeing our runners reach the individual and team goals that they set for themselves. This is the most rewarding part of this sport, setting a goal and putting the hard work in to reach it,” Pauling said.
“This was a great season for the Bruins and we look forward to continuing to build the tradition and pride in LHS cross country.”
Indian Land also competed well in their first season in the Class AA state
meet. The Warriors were 14th in an average time of 19:03.60.
James Gregory led the Warriors with an 18:08 for 35th in the AA field.
Senior John Cutrone was 54th in 18:25. Eric Augeson was 81st in 19:01 and Leith
Rawson ran a 19:44.
Other IL scores were Matthew Hajer (20:0) and Khalil Connor (24:36).
The Indian Land girls were paced by Sarah Jordan (22:48). She was followed
by Courtney Whitten (25:06), Destiny Todd (25:56) and Anna Young (28:37).
Indian Land cross country coach Sara Allen is already looking forward to next season.
“James Gregory has the potential to place first in state next year and/or the year after,” she said.
Indian Land loses only one senior next year – John Cutrone, who was one of the team’s consistent top runners.
““We will miss him,” Allen said. “He is an exceptional young man. His times continued to decrease all three years that I’ve had the pleasure of coaching him.”
Allen said her first-year runners did well this season.
“Eric Augeson had a great first year; he is a great runner. He is also very competitive. He and Destiny Todd had a photo finish at one of our meets this season and they both refused to be beat,” she said.
Allen said seventh-grader Leith Rawson had a difficult year with his knee, which is now on the mend.
“Leith is a nationally recognized runner,” she said. “I expect to see his successes in the years to come.”
Allen said Jeremy Pendleton has improved since last year and is steady and dependable.
“We count on him as one of our top five,” she said.
“Matthew Hajek accomplished his personal goal this season and is ready to set his next one for next year,” Allen said.
She said Khalil Conner’s perseverance and hard work have paid off.
“His time decreased by almost 10 minutes from his first year to today,” she said.
Allen said eighth-grader Chris Whitten, who served as an alternate at this year’s state meet, is a natural runner.
“He could be one of the top three next year with hard work.”
Allen thanked her assistant coaches, D. Fitzpatrick and Brent Rawson, for helping the Indian Land runners this year.
“Your hard work is much appreciated by me, the kids and the parents,” Allen said.
She also thanked the runners’ families and team sponsors Environmental Diversified Services (EDS) and A+ Embroidery for their support, as well as the IL Athletic Booster Club for its devotion to all the Warriors’ teams.
u Contact sports editor Robert Howey at 283-1157