ELKIN - Elkin cross country runners Jacob Parker and Madeline Carter ran personal best times at the 1A Midwest Regional Championships last weekend to qualify for the 1A State Cross Country Championships.
Running at Beeson Park in Kernersville, on an overcast and breezy morning, Parker and Carter used personal bests on the 5K course to earn a trip to the state meet, which will be on the same course tomorrow.
Parker, a freshman, and Carter, a sophomore, both recently achieving Mountain Valley All-Conference honors, advanced to the state meet in different manners.
In the boys race, Parker ran a gusty race to earn the final individual qualifying spot, which goes to the top five runners who are not on one of the four qualifying teams.
Gradually moving up through the pack as the race progressed, he kept picking off more seasoned runners to finish in 14th place in a time of 17:45. He knocked off 40 seconds from his previous best.
“Jacob ran a courageous and gusty race,” distance coach Dan Merritt said. “Not many freshmen make it to the state meet in their first season of cross country. This was a goal of his and he worked hard to achieve it. His work ethic is unrivaled. He has a great future ahead of him.”
Carter, who is making a return trip to the state meet, was never out of the top ten in Saturday’s regional race. She eventually finished seventh in a personal best time of 20:22.
The sophomore was the third individual qualifier and garnered All-Region honors which went to the top ten runners.
“Madeline ran a smart race,” Merritt explained. “She got out very well which kept her up front and in contention throughout the race. She finished strong and proved she belongs among the best in the state. Her goal at the state meet is to make All-State which she missed by one place last year.”
While Carter was the only Elkin girl running, the boys did field a full team.
With Brandon Welborn, Elkin’s number one runner sidelined with a stress fracture, the boys failed to crack the top four. The Elks finished eighth in a 26-team regional.
In addition to Parker’s 14th-place finish, Said Javier finished 22nd in 17:58. Jeremy Pierce came in 64th with a time of 20:01, while Josh Johnson finished 65th also in 20:01. Eli Brown (78th - 20:29) and Aaron Sturtivant (110th - 22:05) rounded out the scoring for Elkin.
“We had a young team this year, losing five seniors from last year’s championship team,” Merritt explained. “It has been a great privilege coaching and watching the team develop into a team of promise and much potential. While injuries are a part of sport, Brandon’s injury derailed our goals this year and yet each runner continued to give their very best. I am proud of them all. Fortunately, all the runners come back next year and we have already set high goals for ourselves.
“I know at Saturday’s state meet Jacob and Madeline will give their best and represent Elkin in the highest manner,” he added.”