By Shirley Shuman
Last Saturday, the Braxton County Middle School girls’ won the Central West Virginia Athletic Conference cross-country championship for the third consecutive season. Five of the Lady Knights finished in the top 10 runners to earn First Team All-Conference honors. Coach Robert Lloyd pointed out that the gap between the first Braxton girl who placed and the fifth was only one minute, six seconds and commented on this statistic. “Something we are always talking about is closing the gap,” he said.
The first of the Lady Knights to cross the finish line was Leah Payne, who placed fourth overall at 14:26. With a time of 14:35, Mackinzey Anderson finished fifth, and Reece Carpenter was close behind in sixth place at 14:47. Chelsea Payne finished eighth at 15:31, and Audrey Duckworth’s ninth place came with a time of 15:32. Coach Lloyd said that Emily Whitney finished 23rd with a time of 19:23, just barely above the Second Team All-Conference requirement.
Braxton’s top three girls gave their views not only on winning the third straight conference championship but also running cross country. Leah Payne, after declaring “I was excited with the championship,” added, “I’m proud of all our hard work and proud of [our coach] for helping us.”
Anderson said she felt happy because it’s her second year and added, “It was one of my goals. It was harder this year,” she said. “It was run at Ravenswood which is a very difficult muddy course with two really big hills right before the finish.”Seventh-grader Reece Carpenter described the win as “pretty cool for my second year in a row” and added, “I think it’s great to be a part of it.”
Discussing running cross country, Carpenter noted, “It’s a difficult sport. It can be a difficult mindset. It’s hard to get your mind right while you’re running.” Carpenter explained how she joined the XC team. “ I like running and thought it would be really fun so I decided to go out to see if I liked it. I really liked it so I stayed out,” she said.
Anderson explained one of the reasons she runs cross country. “I use it to cope with a lot of my stress,” she said, “and I also make a lot of friends.” The best feature of the sport, “is you get a lot of work out of it, and it makes you strong physically,” she commented. Anderson runs during the summer and once ran a half-marathon where she placed first in her age group.
Payne told why she runs cross country. “I’m really good at it, and I enjoy running,” she said. “It was a family thing at first, but then I really enjoyed it myself.” She also runs 5Ks during the summer and says, “ It keeps me in good shape.”
Another off-season runner, Carpenter said she does 5Ks in the summer. This Lady Knight commented about what she likes best about cross country. “Just getting to run, not only for myself but also for the team,” she noted.
For the boys’ team, Ira Ransbottom earned First Team All-Conference with a ninth-place finish and a time of 13:27. Second Team All-Conference honors went to Holden Lloyd, who placed 15th at 13:52. Raidyn Davis finished 18th at 14:04, and Joal Ransbottom was 20th with a time of 14:13. Jamie Spurlock, the fifth-scoring member of the team, placed 24th at 14:59. Then came Noah Spaulding, 31st, and Brody Prince, 33rd. Spaulding’s time was 16:24, and Prince’s was 16:54.
Of the boys’ team, Coach Lloyd said, “The boys’ team may have been underdogs all season, but to watch them run and compete now, you would not know it. This is a young team which has a lot of potential, and if they stick with it next season, they stand a good shot at competing for the championship.”
Coach Lloyd explained his strategy as a coach. “These last few weeks they have been training hard. Coming into this last week of practice, our team ran 17 miles in three days. However, we don’t just focus on putting in miles. We also work on core exercises and stretching.”
The coach also expressed his thanks to the teams sponsors. “A big shout to our sponsors for making it possible to purchase new uniforms.” He also referred to the sponsors as those “who made these kids even more proud to be a Knight.”
By Shirley Shuman