SOUTHERN PINES — Although neither of the Richmond cross country teams finished first at Thursday’s conference championship meet, a few runners set their new personal records at the Pinecrest Elk Lodge.
The girls team had both sophomore Ariel Brown (21:46) and freshman Gracelyn Weatherford (23:52) knock a minute off their times from last week’s race in order to achieve their personal bests. Senior Brandon Silva (17:52) was the lone runner from the boys team to tally his best time this season.
Brown — named First Team All-Conference following the race — came in 11th place to lead the way, while Weatherford and senior Shelby Matheson finished 22nd and 24th, respectively. Matheson, who was recently named the Daily Journal Athlete of the Week, finished with a time of 24:30.
The Lady Raiders placed fourth as a team.
“Without Emily Buie in the lineup, I knew it was going to be tough. We hadn’t had her since the second meet of the year,” head coach Reggie Miller said. “But my girls had a lot of fight in them. It was a close race between us and two other teams.”
Silva had the best time for the boys team, which finished in what Miller called a “tight” fifth spot as team, but came in at the No. 15 spot. Sophomore Joey Nicholson came in 30th place with a time of 19:09, not even 24 hours after he helped the boys soccer team close the regular season with a win over Scotland Wednesday evening.
Because the conference championship race was moved from this Saturday to Thursday, the Raiders were missing one of their top-four runners who already had a prior engagement. But Miller believes in the “next man up” motto.
“We can’t let that or injuries stop us. Whoever is next up to bat is going to have to make up for that loss,” Miller added. “We have to move forward and keep running regardless.”
Miller received the Conference Coach of the Year Award for the second consecutive season and said he appreciates the fact that the other programs recognize that “hardwork and dedication” put forth by him and his runners.
“I’d just like to thank the coaches that voted for me. I’ve never been the one for individual awards, but I’ll take it if they’re going to give it to me,” he said with a laugh. “But if I could give it all back so we could be conference champions, I’d do it.”
Both Richmond teams will prepare for Regionals in Kernersville next Saturday, Oct. 28.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.