News-Star: Sports

West Johnston sweeps Greater Neuse River 4A Conference cross country titles

At this point, it seems if they hold a Greater Neuse River 4A Conference Cross Country Championship, West Johnston will be there to register multiple wins.

The Wildcats did just that again Tuesday afternoon, sweeping the boys and girls team titles at Wendell Community Park for the seventh time in the past eight seasons. And West Johnston standout Kyle Christ turned in a repeat performance of his own, winning the boys individual title for a second consecutive year.

“We train hard so that we can still have good results every time out,” said West Johnston coach Patrick Shaw who has led the Wildcats in each of those championship seasons. “Our boys didn’t have the kind of race we wanted to have today but they were able to gut out enough to win. The girls, I was really proud of the race they had.”

West Johnston’s girls finished with just 48 team points, 36 ahead of girls team runner-up Knightdale. The Knights swept the top two finishing positions with Aleena Cruz winning the race in 20 minutes, 13.78 seconds and Rebecca Davis taking second. Rolesville’s Caitlyn Bell was third.

West Johnston had the next two finishing positions with Robin Pollard in fourth and Jackie Koger taking fifth.

“Robin, this was her first conference race this season I believe, and really helped us run a tighter group,” Shaw said. “Jackie is a runner who has developed into a great team leader this season and has shown great improvement with her times.”

West Johnston’s Amber Maberry took the final top 10 finishing spot. Southeast Raleigh edged Clayton (86-88) for third place. Harnett Central was fifth, Rolesville sixth and Garner seventh.

Veronica Vallasuso paced Clayton with a sixth-place finish and Jordan Gary of Southeast Raleigh was seventh.

Sierra Moore was Garner’s lead runner in 11th place.

Christ, one of the top-rated boys runners in the state, took his championship in 15:56.3, safely ahead of the runner-up: Alex Roy of Clayton (16:28.21). The Wildcats finished with 37 team points, 25 ahead of Southeast Raleigh.

“Kyle isn’t a runner you have to think about much as a coach at a meet,” Shaw said. “He’s going to go out and run his race. It’d call it a good solid run for him, under 16.”

Christ’s teammate, Chris Perez, took third in 16:59 and Southeast Raleigh’s Jason Putnam was fourth. Charles Pumbu of Knightdale rounded out the top five.

The Knights were third in the team standings (85) with Clayton (104), Garner (118), Rolesville (136), Harnett Central (167) and East Wake (217) rounding out the team field.

West Johnston’s Seth Byrd (17:33.02), Terrence Adams of Southeast Raleigh (17:33.51), Ian Mbogo of Knightdale (17:41.16), Nick Snell of Garner (17:41.79) and Andre Ray of Knightdale (17:46.57). made up the rest of the boys’ top 10.

The next challenge on the horizon for GNRC runners is the Mideast regional on Oct. 25 at WakeMed Park in Cary, which features Southwest Wake Athletic Conference and Cap Eight teams, making it one of the deepest and toughest in the state.

Only the top four teams and top four finishing individuals not on those teams will advance to the state finals from the regional.