It’s been years since East Lincoln Middle School has had a cross country team, but it took only a few weeks to show the Falcons were serious about running.
The school fielded the sport for the first time in more than two decades this year, and it saw immediate results. Its boys team finished fourth in the Tri-County Conference and its girls team finished second, and both won the county championship race.
New trails were constructed behind the school, to give the runners more of an off-road feel.
It paid off.
“The team had no idea that the rough terrain and steep hills would give them an advantage over teams that typically ran around their grounds, which were mostly grass and track courses,” girls coach Cheryl Buckner said.
After running laps in the woods for a few weeks, the teams headed to Shelby Middle School for their first meet against the host school, East Rutherfordton, Lincolnton and Kings Mountain, and they did well.
Both teams won the meet, and it led to more success as the season progressed.
“We had a great team of athletes who were hard-working, competitive, encouraging and just enjoyed running through the woods with each other,” Buckner said.
The boys team is coached by Joe Roseman.
FALCONS WIN SOFTBALL TITLE: East Lincoln’s softball team won the Tri-County Conference championship with a 5-4 victory over R.S. Central at home on Tuesday.
The Falcons won behind the pitching of Emily Stolzenbach in a game that was plagued with errors. Of the nine runs scored, only one was earned.
Stolzenbach tripled and scored on an error to cut R.S. Central’s lead to 2-1 in the second inning. In the fourth Faith Cooke singled and Leanna Ellis drove her home, then Ellis scored on a two-out error to make it 3-2.
After the Knights retook the lead with two runs in the fifth, the Falcons got singles from Annika Gemberling and Morgan Edwards, then both scored on errors for the 5-4 lead.
East Lincoln held R.S. Central scoreless over the final two frames for the win.
The Falcons finished the season 11-1, with their only loss coming to West Lincoln in the season’s first game.