Middle school runners from Summit, Highlands, and Rabun Gap schools gathered at Summit last month for this season’s opening cross-country meet.
Middle school cross country season opener at Summit against Highlands and Rabun Gap. Pictured are the runners from all three teams in front of Summit’s soccer field scoreboard.
Summit boys took first place as a team and Summit girls came in third.
Summit Chance Wilson came in 1st place for boys, with Rainier Finley coming in 3rd, Samuel Dyer 4th, Wylie Hoffman earning 5th, Jackson Dauble came in 7th, and Alex Rodriguez came in 13th.
From left are Summit Chance Wilson (1st place) and Rainier Finley (3rd place) after the first cross country meet of the season.
Summit girls include Sydney Sinclair who came in 6th place, Rae Bennett came in 7th, and Lydia Hughes came took 8th.
Summit Lydia Hughes smiles and she rounds the front of Summit School.
“For our first meet, our runners did very well,” said Summit Coach Orlando Buck. “They rose to the challenges placed before them and ran better than they had been in practices. I am proud of the effort they have been putting into practice and their perseverance on the course.”
Summit Rae Bennett and Sydney Sinclair run up the hill behind the scoreboard.
Highlands boys and girls teams both earned 2nd place. Highlands Timmy McDowell was second overall in the boys division and Highlands Claire Worley was 2nd in the girls competition with Courtney Logan right behind her earning 3rd.
Highlands Timmy McDowell smiles as he crests the hill in the corner of the soccer field.
Highlands Coach Derek Taylor said they have five boys and four girls on the middle school teams, including one high schooler, Luke Hartman, who runs with the middle schoolers for practice.
Highlands Coach Derek Taylor pushes Highlands Luke Harman to finish the race strong.
“The team makeup is very different than last year and we weren’t able to do a summer program, so at this point you really can’t make comparisons to last year,” said Taylor. “The kids are doing great, they recently had a meet in Cherokee with everyone running a faster per-mile pace overall compared to the opening meet at Summit.”
Highlands Clair Worley is focused as she rounds the corner with her father, Canty, cheering her on in the background.
Summit teams are made up of six boys and three girls, and also include a high schooler who practices and competes at meets when allowed said Buck. He said he is very proud of the effort the Summit Bears have put into improving their times.
Summit Middle School Cross Country Team from left are Coach Orlando Buck, Jackson Dauble, Rainier Finley, Alex Rodriguez, Chance Wilson, Samuel Dyer, Wylie Hoffman, Victoria Clement, Lydia Hughes, Sydney Sinclair, and Rae Bennett.
“Running cross country is not something that a lot of students look at and say, ‘Oh wow, I can’t wait to participate in that sport,’” said Buck. “It’s tiresome, it’s grueling, and you finish feeling like you’ve got nothing left to give. Cross country is also more than just putting on a pair of shoes and starting to run. Our runners have been working on nutrition, stretching, running form, speed drills, and building endurance since at least the beginning of August. What we are seeing now are the fruit of many weeks of dedication and a lot of sweat left on the trails. As their coach, I could not be more proud of their efforts and the improvements they’ve already made.”
Highlands Middle School Cross Country Team from left are Francisco Gooch, Tucker Wilson, Zion Baumgarten, Jim De la Cruz, Courtney Logan, Margaret Cole and Claire Worley. Not pictured are Timmy McDowell and Luke Hartman.
From left are Highlands Tucker Wilson and Francisco Gooch.
On left is Highlands Margaret Cole staying focused and she heads into the final stretch.
Boys teams take off from the starting line.
Beginning of the Girls Race at the starting line.
Summit Jackson Dauble kicks into high gear as he approaches the finish line.
Highlands Jim De La Cruz paces himself as he heads up the hill to start another lap.
From left are Summit Wylie Hoffman and Sam Dyer beginning their second lap.
Summit Alex Rodriguez rounds the corner at the front of Summit School.
Highlands Courtney Logan nearing the finish line.
Highlands Zion Baumgarten just yards from the finish line.
Highlands Luke Hartman kicks it into high gear to finish the race strong.
Summit Rainier stays focused during the approx. 2 mile race.
Summit Rae Bennett begins her second lap around Summit School.
Summit Lydia Hughes smiles as she nears finishing her first lap.
Highlands Clair Worley quickly covers the small stretch of road along the course.
Highlands Timmy McDowell still smiling with 2 thumbs up as he begins his second lap. McDowell came in 2nd place in the Boys division.
Summit Jackson Dauble yards from the finish line.
Highlands Tucker Wilson powering through the home stretch.
After the Boys Race finished, runners chased after the girls team to cheer them on.
Teams chat after a group photo.
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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