Knights sweep team titles; Wesson, Massey capture individual wins
North Lincoln left little doubt Thursday which Lincoln County school has the top cross country program.
The Knights won both the boys and girls races in the Lincoln County cross country championships at West Lincoln, and also had the top seven finishers as it dominated the boys race.
Zach Wesson was the boys’ top finisher with a time of 18 minutes, 16 seconds, and was 11 seconds better than second-place finisher and teammate Adam Lineberger.
Once Wesson crossed the finish line, 51 seconds passed before someone not wearing a blue jersey completed the course.
West Lincoln’s Matthew Bumgarner finished in 19:07, and was the best non-North Lincoln male runner of the day. Only the top seven runners of each team counted in the day’s final standings, and the Knights got their top seven across before anyone else had their first.
“Our boys made it look easy. They’ve been working really hard,” North Lincoln coach Jerry Castro said. “They ran well. We’ve only had one month to get ready for this, so the credit goes to them for doing the work while most kids are at the beach.”
Wesson, a senior, picked up right where former teammates Andrew Fea and Ryan Shannon left off.
Wesson, who pulled away from the pack as the course took a turn down Shoal Road, said he learned as much as he could from those before him, and now feels the torch has been passed down to him to lead the Knights.
He led an entire field for the first time since he was a freshman on a junior varsity team on Thursday.
“Coach Castro has definitely kept us strong,” Wesson said. “I was one of the first guys in his program, and we’ve really developed. … When you run together a lot, you get good. It takes a lot of dedication, especially over the summer when it’s hot like today.”
North Lincoln’s top seven boys included Alex Akers, Austin Hilburn, Riley Jones, Lucas Depasquale and Cole Ferrard. Tristan Brunner finished ninth and was Lincolnton’s top male runner, and Beck Classey was East Lincoln’s top male runner at 11th.
After North Lincoln’s perfect score of 15, East Lincoln was second at 70, Lincolnton third at 71 and West Lincoln last at 92.
East Lincoln placed its top seven in the first 21, including taking spots 11-13. Lincolnton had its seven in the top 25 as West Lincoln placed only four in the top 25.
North Lincoln’s girls was the top team, but the race was dominated by Frances Massey.
The East Lincoln sophomore finished nearly a minute ahead of North Lincoln’s Madeline Sides. Massey came in at 19:49 while Sides, who was followed by teammate Jordyn Connell, finished at 21:41.
“It’s just a lot of hard work –– lots of practice in the sun,” Massey said.
North Lincoln’s girls took three of the top five spots to edge out East Lincoln, who had four in the top 10. The difference was in spots 10-16, where four Knights runners finished for the win.
“The girls were motivated for this meet,” Castro said. “Being in 3A, that state title is just so hard to get, and they’re not quite at that level right now. So they take the county meet and the conference meets like they’re championships.”
Lincolnton’s Jada Blake finished fourth for its top female runner. West Lincoln’s Adrianna Compton was its top runner at eighth.
North Lincoln scored a 32, followed by a 41 for East Lincoln, 69 for West Lincoln and a 92 for Lincolnton.