By RYAN HERMAN
With the 2013 cross country season officially in the books, teams are already looking ahead to 2014.
For a few Lincoln County teams, the future looks mighty bright.
The county had three programs finish third or higher at the NCHSAA state championships on Saturday, and two of the three have the majority of their teams returning next year.
Both East Lincoln’s girls, who won their first 2A state title in school history Saturday, and Lincoln Charter’s girls, who finished second in the 1A title race for the second straight year, are losing just one senior from the seven that competed on Saturday.
North Lincoln’s girls, who placed seventh in the 3A race, will return five of their top seven and seven of their top nine. Its boys, who finished third in their 3A race, will lose four due to graduation.
“I think this girls team is going to be real good for years to come,” Knights coach Jerry Castro said, “so seventh, I’m pretty satisfied with seventh.
East Lincoln’s girls placed five in the top 29 to claim the title and end Carrboro’s four-year reign atop the 2A girls cross country world. All five are set to return, including fifth-place finisher Frances Massey, a freshman.
“The team will be a force to contend with next year also,” Mustangs coach Melvin Morrison said.
Lincoln Charter, which finished second to Kernersville Bishop McGuinness for the second straight year, had to race without its top runner in Sophia Bhalla on Saturday, who missed the regionals and championship races with an injury. But the Eagles will get her back next year afresh, and four of their top five from Saturday.
Run, run, run
Lincoln County has become quite the cross country hotbed.
In the last five years, the county has had one girls team state champion (East Lincoln, 2013), one girls individual state champion (Bhalla, 2012) and three boys team state champions (East Lincoln 2009, North Lincoln 2011-12).
It’s also had five team state runner-ups (East Lincoln boys 2010, North Lincoln girls 2010-11, Lincoln Charter girls 2012-13) and three individual runner-ups (Savannah Fornshell, North Lincoln, 2010; Travis Alfaro, Lincolnton, 2010; Grace Turner, Lincolnton, 2011) during that span.
The following Lincoln County female runners made the All-Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference team: East Lincoln –– Frances Massey, Megan Rowles, Madison Rowles, Elizabeth Sisk, Maggie Foley, Tori Horne and Shelbee Knopf; Lincolnton –– Jada Blake; West Lincoln –– Adriana Compton.
Massey was selected as the girls runner of the year and East Lincoln coach Jill Farar was selected as the coach of the year.
The following Lincoln County male runners made the All-SD-7 Conference team: East Lincoln –– Mason Leach, Ridge Fenske; West Lincoln –– Johnathan Weber, Justin Beam.