Senior Dylan Shamburger crossed the line and watched as his cross country teammates finished behind him at the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference championship meet at Western Carolina University. Shamburger’s time of 16:10 was the senior’s new personal record.
“This was the first time all season I felt like I raced well,” Shamburger said. “I was happy with the time.”
Shamburger was followed by junior Jarod Connell in seventh, senior Brandan Naef in 12th with a personal best of 17:39, and junior Kaden Dirks in 14th. The men’s team won the conference title.
“We have been runner-up for the conference title the past three years,” Shamburger said. “Everyone on the team had worked really hard all season and we were prepared to win it.”
The women’s team placed third in the conference with freshman Madeline Duchesne placing sixth, junior Lauren Kilby placing 10th and freshman Riley Hill placing 14th.
“Although it wasn’t my best race, I knew I would have to keep pushing myself to do well for the team,” Hill said. “It was good for us to place third in conference because we are a fairly young team.”
The men’s team had to step up their game after one of the varsity members was injured during a race. Junior Graham Neve was racing at the Eye Opener meet held in Spartanburg when he felt a pain in his shin. Neve was informed that he had fractured his fibula.
“When I heard I had fractured my fibula, I was devastated,” Neve said. “It was such a surprise that it had happened. I didn’t think about how it would affect the team because I knew they could perform well without me.”
On Oct. 29 the teams competed at the NCHSAA 3A West Cross Country Regional meet. The women’s team qualified for the state championship that took place in Kernersville on Nov. 5. The team of Duchesne, Kilby, Hill, freshmen Maggie Campbell and Whitney Thompson, senior Sophie Fortain and junior Summer Shipman earned a spot in the state meet.
“When they announced that our team would be going to state I was so proud to be a Falcon,” Campbell said. “To be a freshman and be able to compete at state is something I never say myself doing. When you work hard enough and stay focused, you can achieve anything.”
Finishing fifth place in the region, the men’s team did not advance to the state meet as a team, but sent two individual runners, Shamburger and Connell.
“We didn’t show what the team was capable of at regionals. Jarod and I were able to place and make it to state individually, but I was sad more than anything because the team didn’t make it,” Shamburger said.
By: Brandan Naef