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Cross country boys, girls fare well in district meet / September 13, 2021

“This was a pretty solid start to the district for us,” said coach David Riddle as the HCHS Comet cross country girls and boys teams place second and third, respectively, to begin Piedmont District season action Wednesday.

The Comet boys’ third place finish was out of a field of six teams. Halifax had a team score of 64.

Bassett was first at 36. Tunstall was second with 55. Patrick County 99, GW-Danville 126, and Martinsville with a 152 rounded out fourth through sixth place.

“Ethan Kirthart once again led the way with a seventh place finish,” Riddle said. “Will van Opstal came in 10th, and Justin Pool came in with a top 15 finish as well.”

Kirkhart running a 21:52.37 earned six points; Opstal (22:34.54) and Pool (22:44.41) in 11th place had nine and 10 points, in that order, for a score of 25.

Halifax’s Christopher DeGraw (24:04.78) running 18th, earned 17 points. Henry Midkiff (25:39.73) in 23rd earned 22 points to round out the Comets’ team total. Preston Simpson (26:10.25) had 24 points; Erik Hudgins (27:22.71) with 30 points.

“For the ladies, Kate Bishop had a tremendous race finishing in fifth,” Riddle said. “Lydia Wenzel and Morgan Crenshaw both came in the top 10, while Ashley Irby and Mallory Salley both had top 15 finishes.”

Bishop, running 27:00.69, continues to post better results with each meet and Wednesday was no different. Lydia Wenzel (30:41.69) and Morgan Crenshaw (30:51.19) placing ninth and 10th along with Mallory Salley (11th) and Ashley Irby (12th) ran some really stout races, 31:47.73 and 31:50.75 respectively.

Jenna Hall with 37:00.56 17, and Jaci Parham running 37:05.40 18 placed 25th and 26th. Alayna Newby finished 36th with a time of 40:15.70.

Halifax County Middle School distance runners performed very well at the meet. Brennan Hunt paced his team with a fifth place finish in a time of 11:18.16. Joel Layne at 13:28.55 and Cole Johnson completing the course in 13:35.85 finished 13th and 14th. All three boys are eighth graders.

Riddle and Palmore said the Patrick County course is one of the most demanding layouts the teams compete on. Both were happy with the Comets’ performance and are looking forward to the next meet.

“While the times were slower than last week, you have to factor in that this is one of the toughest courses we run all year,” Riddle said. “We traditionally drop off a minute or so here, as does everyone else running the event.

“The biggest takeaway and positive from today was our pacing. We did far more passing in the second half of the race than had others passing us. Ethan and Kate both jumped up multiple spots in the final stretch as did many of our runners. They are beginning to get a feel for where you need to be at different stages of the race.

The Comets are at Tunstall Tuesday for a multi-school district meet.

“To come out second on the ladies side and third on the guys is a tremendous start for us,” Riddle said. “We are going to continue to work on narrowing the gap for the teams ahead of us and push this group to what we know they are capable of.”

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