Corinth Holders senior Arden Vessie continued her streak of victories and records in the season’s first area invitational cross country meet on Aug. 22. Vessie won the Early Bird Invitational girls championship for the third consecutive year at Wendell Community Park and set her third straight course record in the process.
Princeton’s girls won the open division championship.
Vessie posted a run of 19 minutes, 12.11 seconds in the win, which came against an assortment of 4A and private school teams among others.
Her run and top 10 finishes from Cameron Rutherford and Kayla St. Marie helped the Pirates to a runner-up team finish in the championship division. Ravenscroft took the title with 45 points, 12 ahead of Corinth Holders.
Clayton was fifth in the meet and Knightdale took sixth. Knightdale sophomore Aleena Cruz turned in a time of 20:42.30, good for fourth place in the event. Freshman Sierra Moore led Garner with an 18th place finish (24:23.75). Kayli Watson paced Clayton in 27th.
Corinth Holders’ boys were second in the championship race with 83 points, behind the Research Triangle Raptors (67 points). Cleveland finished third, a point ahead of Garner. Knightdale was fifth with 128. Clayton took eighth.
Clayton’s Alex Roy was third individually in 17:24.22. Knightdale’s Charles Pumbu came in eighth at a time of 17:38.13. His teammate Andre Ray was 19th (18:58.78)
Austin Carroll of Corinth Holders grabbed a ninth place finish and Garner’s William Knabe was 10th. Patrick Myers of Corinth Holders (11th), Gabe Dersham (12th) and Wyatt Dersham (13th), both of Cleveland, Garner’s Nick Snell (14th) and Smithfield-Selma’s Caleb Silver (15th) all finished in the top 15.
The meet organizers offer a special championship treat to its winning teams: brownies instead of trophies.
Princeton’s girls edged out Ravenscroft for the open division team championship, earning the famed championship brownies. The Bulldogs finished with 49 points, seven ahead of Ravenscroft.
Junior Altheia Balageo led Princeton with a fourth place finish in 24:46.44 and Megan Evans, Amber Johnson and Chelsea Hawley finished seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
Corinth Holders and Cleveland also entered teams in the open race. Cleveland was fifth and Corinth Holders sixth in the team standings. Freshman Stella Blackwell was 10th for Corinth Holders (25:56.85). Fellow freshman Jessica Cullins was 11th for Cleveland. Ishary Lopez of Knightdale was 23rd at 27:55.62.
The Princeton boys team had a stellar run in the boys open division, led by individual race winner Austin Sullivan. Sullivan, a sophomore, clocked in at 19:05.97.
Jose Aguillon was third and Hunter Mitchell fourth for the Bulldogs.
“This was Austin and Jose’s first cross country race and they showed that they both have a ton of potential,” said Princeton coach Mark McLamb. “Jose only has one season since he is a senior, but he will play a major role on the team. Austin has a very bright future ahead in cross country. This was a very good start for the teams and against larger schools.”
Chad Driscoll of Corinth Holders was sixth individually in the open boys race and Garner’s Mykal Carter finished seventh. Michael Franklin of Cleveland was ninth.
Princeton’s boys were the runner-up team behind Ravenscroft. Cleveland took third and Corinth Holders and Garner were fourth and fifth, respectively. Clayton ran seventh.