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Comet girls get first cross country win of season





With district on horizon, cross country tunes up at invitational / September 09, 2021

The Halifax County High School cross country teams participated in the eighth annual Bengal Clash at the River 2021 on Sept. 2 with promising results.

The meet — held at Smith River Sports Complex in Martinsville and hosted by Bassett High School — featured a solid number of high and middle school cross country programs.

Competing at the event were Bassett, Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Carlisle School, Carroll County, Cave Spring High School, Christian Heritage Academy, Dan River High School, Faith Christian School, Franklin County, Galax, Galileo High School, Glenvar High School, Halifax County, Magna Vista, Martinsville, Patrick County, Pulaski County, Roanoke Catholic School, Roanoke Valley Christian, Salem (Roanoke), Southwest Virginia Academy, and William Byrd High School.

With so many schools vying for the best times run, Halifax coaches David Riddle and Michelle Palmore knew the field would be imposing.

“Coach Riddle and I knew going into this event that there was going to be some tough competition, but our runners came out and did their best, resulting in improved times across the board,” Palmore said. “The weather was better this week, and our guys and girls took advantage of that to run their best races yet.”

Halifax performed well; the best local finish was by Halifax Middle School’s Brennan Hunt who had a top-10 finish.

For the varsity boys Ethan Kirkhart, Justin Pool and Will van Opstal had good performances. Kate Bishop, Lydia Wenzel, Mallory Salley, and Ashley Irby each ran times under 30 minutes for the Comet girls.

“Ethan Kirkhart led the guys for our team and improved his time by about a minute and a half,” Palmore said. “Justin Pool and Will van Opstal rounded out as our top-three finishers on the guys side and everyone looked really solid.

“Kate Bishop led our team on the girls side with a solid run; we are expecting big things from her this season. Lydia Wenzel, Morgan Salley, and Ashley Irby all improved greatly this week and are looking really good for the season.

“Our middle school runners showed up, and they all did a really great job in their first race. Brennan Hunt finished eighth and came home with a medal.”

Hunt gave it his all as he ran the last hill on the course passed several runners to earn the finish.

“We are excited to have them as a part of the team and they have been working hard every practice,” said Palmore.

Now that preseason events are done, it’s time to get down to Piedmont District action. Palmore and Riddle said they felt like both teams are in a good place as they approached the district opener held Wednesday.

“The past two meets have been pre-season invitationals where we were able to see a lot of different teams across the state,” Palmore said. “We look forward to our first district meet at Patrick County and are feeling pretty confident with these two under our belts.

“[We] are looking forward to seeing our runners shave off some time and improving every week.”

Boys: Ethan Kirkhart 20:10.04 31st; Justin Pool 20:39.60 39th; Will van Opstal 21:20.27 45th; Henry Midkiff 22:33.68 61st; Christopher DeGraw 22:39.60 62nd; Preston Simpson 24:03.35 72nd; Erik Hudgins 24:21.06 75th.

Girls: Kate Bishop 24:59.57 32nd; Lydia Wenzel 27:58.68 51st; Mallory Salley 28:16.12 53rd; Ashley Irby 28:46.29 56th; Morgan Crenshaw 30:19.67 61st; Alayna Newby 33:50.81 64th - JV Girls: Jaci Parham 31:39.77 20th; Jenna Hall 32:21.73 23rd.

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