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Cross country looking to make its mark on sports scene

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Top, Members of the HCHS boys cross country team are, from left, first row, Trevor Riddle, Andrew Hansen, Jake Carr, Tyler Hudson and Jacob Crews. Second row, Jackson Dunavant, West Conner, Gordon Taylor, Jay Francisco, Ethan Martin and Grant Nichols. Third row, coach David Riddle, Brayden Moore, Ethan Blanks, Carlton Redd, Jax Bosiger, Josh Dawson, Ben Irby and coach Melanie Saunders. Above, Members of the HCHS girls cross country team are, from left, first row, Cheyenne McElroy, Maci Henderson, Mollie Slate, McKenzie Patterson and Janae Hansen. Second row, Summer Lacks, Mollie Conner, Jamie Shelton, Kayla Waller and Tyra Murray. Third row, coach David Riddle, Abby Casen, Jessica Watts, Jillian Crews, Chloe Lacks, Hannah Bush and coach Melanie Saunders.
SoVaNow.com / August 21, 2017
Halifax County High School cross country coach David Riddle has reason for optimism heading into the fall campaign.

The local harriers will be back for another productive campaign as this fall sport seeks to make its mark on the local fall sports scene.

“Coach (Melanie) Saunders and I have been extremely impressed with what we have seen so far this season. The entire group has come in ready to work from day one. We have had some tough workouts getting ready but we have heard no complaints and everyone on the team has jumped right in and have done everything that we have asked of them,” said Riddle.

“Our guys team had one of their best seasons in recent memory last season. We were right near the top in all of our Piedmont meets and ended up winning several of them. Considering the fact that the district has produced some great runners who always compete on the guys side, that speaks volumes for how far we have come.

“We were hit by graduation a bit, but we still have a strong core returning from last year. Jax Bosiger and Carlton Redd were in the top seven the entire year, and Ethan Blanks and Josh Dawson were there or close almost every meet,” said Riddle.

Veterans Tyler Hudson, Ben Irby, Grant Nichols, and Gordon Taylor have been close to that group during practice, as have Brayden Moore and Trevor Riddle.

“We are looking for that group to not only push each other for spots but to keep us close to where we were at last year or go past it. We have also seen some solid work out of Jake Carr, West Conner, Jacob Crews, Jay Francisco, Andrew Hansen, and Ethan Martin. Anyone from that group could push themselves near the top part of the ladder as well,” said Riddle.

Riddle and Saunders continue to work hard to develop the cross country program. Riddle is one of the committed coaches looking to make better student-athletes, and Saunders, the former varsity softball coach, continues to be an inspiration with her personal investment in the sport.

“On the girls side we are looking to get back to where we were in the past. We fell a little bit last season, but the work ethic has been tremendous this year. Veterans Abby Casen, Janae Hansen, Summer Lacks, Kayla Waller, and Jessica Watts all saw time in the top seven last year and are working hard to get this team back to where we know we can be,” said Riddle.

“Tyra Murray is coming back from and injury shortened season last year and has really stepped it up, and newcomer Maci Henderson has been near that group as well. Mollie Conner, Cheyenne McElroy, McKenzie Patterson, Jamie Shelton, and Mollie Slate round out the varsity part of the girls team and are getting a feel for what we do and should all progress as we move along. We are also pleased to have Hannah Bush and Chloe Lacks out as eighth graders, and hopefully Ella Morrison when she can return from injury. Hannah and Chloe have both ran with the top girls all through early practice and will use this season to get a feel for what it is like,” said Riddle.

“We are excited about what this season holds. There is a bit of an unknown element considering the new faces and people stepping up to replace the graduates. But if the commitment that we have seen so far out of this group is any indication of what the year holds then we will have a successful one,” said Riddle.

On a side note, it’s helpful for the Comet program to see some of the multi-sport athletes running cross country and working to stay in shape for other sports during the year.

Boys, Ethan Blanks 12; Jax Bosiger 12; Jake Carr 9; West Conner 10; Josh Dawson 12; Jackson Dunavant 10; Jay Francisco 11; Andrew Hansen 9; Tyler Hudson 11; Ben Irby 11; Ethan Martin 9; Brayden Moore 12; Grant Nichols 12; Carlton Redd 12; Trevor Riddle 9; Gordon Taylor 12.

Girls: Hannah Bush 8; Abby Casen 10; Mollie Conner 10; Jillian Crews 11; Janae Hansen 11; Maci Henderson 10; Chloe Lacks 8; Summer Lacks 12; Cheyenne McElroy 9; Ella Morrison 8; Tyra Murray 12; McKenzie Patterson 10; Jamie Shelton 10; Mollie Slate 12; Kayla Waller 12; Jessica Watts 12.

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