BRISTOL, Va. – On a day when the true battle was for second place, Rye Cove’s Katy Roller and Castlewood’s Hunter Hicks could take some solace in silver.
Catherine Grossman of Patrick Henry blitzed the field in winning the girls race and Holston’s Jordan Keith did the same in the boys event on Tuesday afternoon at the VHSL Region 1D cross country championships at Sugar Hollow Park.
Grossman crossed the finish line in 19:53.1, while Roller was runner-up after clocking in at 23:16.9.
“[Grossman] is insanely good,” Roller said. “I saw her at the beginning of the race and then she was gone. I did not see her again after that. Gosh, she’s so good.”
How good, exactly?
Well, Grossman was the state runner-up in 2016 and 2017.
Will she upgrade from second-place to No. 1 this year?
“I’m not sure if this is the year or not,” Grossman said. “I’ve been focusing more on soccer and training for that. I’m just hoping to do as well as I’ve done.”
Grossman wasn’t threatened at all on Tuesday.
“I kind of have to push myself more since nobody is behind me,” Grossman said. “It’s kind of peaceful, though.”
Top-20 finishes by Roller, Grace Rhoton (ninth, 24:59), Vivian Boles (14th, 26:34.6) and Emilee Carlson (17th, 27:03.7) enabled Rye Cove to win the team title for the second straight year.
The Eagles finished with 40 points, getting by Grundy (49 points) and Eastside (51) in the team standings.
Roller and Rhoton are also standouts on Rye Cove’s basketball team.
“It’s good to have Grace there with me in every sport that I play,” Roller said.
Keith navigated the course in 16:18.1 to win the boys race, while Hicks recorded a time of 17:17.8 to grab the second-place medal.
Keith finished third in the state last year, an impressive feat considering it was his first season competing in cross country.
He has to be considered among the favorites in the VHSL Class 1 state meet, which is scheduled for Nov. 9 at Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia.
“Last year was my first year running that course [in the state meet],” Keith said. “I think I have more experience and I have a better chance at getting it this year.”
Nobody had a chance at catching Keith on Tuesday, not even Hicks.
“Keith was flying,” Hicks said. “I really wanted to beat that Burton kid [third-place finisher Owen Lindsey of J.I. Burton]. He had been ahead of me in nearly everything and beat me in the [Cumberland District] meet. I was going after him and I was going to try my best to get close to the Holston runner, but he was gone.”
Hicks, Zachary Owens (fourth, 18:02.2), Peyton Salyer (sixth, 18:19) and Dylan Ingle (23rd, 20:01) led the way as Castlewood won the team title with a total of 44 points.
J.I. Burton (49) and Holston (65) were behind the Blue Devils.
“That was our goal,” Hicks said. “Last year we got runner-up and it was pretty disappointing. This year we had some seniors came out for the team and they helped out. It feels good.”
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