Saints compete at Bryan Park

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GOLDSBORO - A surprisingly flat, looping course provided the perfect recipe for Southern Wayne’s cross country runners to lower personal times Monday afternoon.

And, for the most part, each did during a four-team, Eastern Carolina 3A-4A meet contested at Bryan Park.

“Today in warm-ups, we looked different than last week [at New Bern],” said SW head coach Takisha Vann. “With it being warmer and a flat course, I gave everyone the challenge of trying to reduce their times. 

“Some of our kids are running against themselves and others are running to better their times [in competition]. They took it more seriously [today].”

On the boys’ side, meet winner Todd Gardner from Charles B. Aycock set the pace and crossed the finish line in 19 minutes, 6 seconds.

Gardner’s strong start and an early-pack scramble allowed him to build a sizable advantage during the opening mile. On several occasions, he looked behind him to see who was on his heels.

Southern Wayne’s trio of Jose Velasquez, Edwin Perez and Ryan Norton got tangled up moments after the starting gun sounded, and none could make a significant move on the 5k trek.

Velasquez claimed third in 19:10. Perez wound up sixth in 19:31, while Norton emerged as the 10th-fastest in 21:28. Teammates Carson Wise and Carson Daly took 15th and 17th, respectively.

Randy Rojas and Jeremy Whitley also competed for SW.

On the girls’ side, the Saints’ lone runner - Bethany Tadlock - recorded a top-10 finish. She filed a time of 34:28.

“I think they did pretty good,” Vann said. “[It’s] a definite improvement from one week to the next. They’ve been working hard on their own and in practice.

“They did their best and finished strong.”

Aycock boys and girls each won the team portion of the event that also included county foe Eastern Wayne and J.H. Rose.

Southern Wayne returns to Bryan Park next Wednesday for a three-team meet that includes CBA and South Central.

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