Corinth Holders had to go to a figurative overtime to eke out a win in the boys’ race.
And then the Pirates girls made things look very easy.
Cameron Rutherford and Kayla Ste Marie finished 1-2 in the girls’ portion of the Two Rivers 3A cross-country meet Thursday at Cleveland, topping second-place Western Harnett 30-40 to repeat the championship they won during the conference’s inaugural meet last year.
The boys won a tiebreaker with the host Rams after each team finished with 46 points. Corinth Holders’ sixth finisher Nick LaCerda completed the course in 18 minutes, 20 seconds, beating Cleveland’s sixth man Thomas Tew (18:32).
Sophomore Jacob Gonzalez of South Johnston blew away the boys’ field, repeating his individual title by running a 15:44 over the 3.1-mile course to easily beat Gable Dershem of Cleveland (16:04). Gable’s twin brother Wyatt (16:15) came in fourth.
Corinth Holders’ Patrick Myers finished fifth in 16:19, leading five Pirates in the top 14.
“We trained hard,” said Corinth Holders coach Joe Johnston, who called the twin titles the best day in the program’s five-year history. “We knew we would have to push it to beat Cleveland. We paced off their guys and didn’t let them set the pace.”
Cleveland coach Marissa DiMarco said she was a little bummed at the finish, but was proud of both her teams.
“I can’t be upset,” said DiMarco, whose boys’ team had beaten Corinth Holders twice during the regular season. “Every single one of our runners did their personal bests. With the tie-break, it couldn’t have been any closer in the boys’ race. Maybe that will motivate us in the regional.”
Gonzalez ran away from his competition about halfway through the race.
“I started off fast,” said Gonzalez, who finished sixth in the state meet last year. “I wanted to get about a 5-flat (minute mile pace), but I just sped up every single time I could.
“I ate pretty nutritious food this morning: corn flakes. I think that helped. I knew what to do: I started fast and finished fast.”
Gable Dershem said he tried to keep pace with Gonzalez as long as he could.
“I felt pretty good about my race since it was a PR (personal record),” he said. “I wanted to pace with Jacob as long as I could.”
Added brother Wyatt: “It’s great running with my brother. We push each other and give each other good competition. I got my personal best too. And our team gave a good effort today.”
Rutherford and Ste. Marie have had a season-long agreement to switch the order of their first- and second-place finishes in alternate Two Rivers meets since no one else in the league can keep up.
“It’s awesome,” said Rutherford, who moved from Ohio over the summer and ran 19:45 Tuesday. “This team is like a family and we really pull each other.”
Ste. Marie ran 19:47, 59 seconds ahead of the next finisher.
“We just plan to finish first or second in every other race,” Ste Marie said. “We were trying to go hard down the stretch to break 20 minutes.”
Western Harnett finished third in the boys’ team standings with 62 points, followed by South Johnston (72) and Triton (143).
In the girls’ race, Cleveland scored 77, South Johnston 114 and Triton 120.
The regional meet is Oct. 25 in Battleboro.