BRISTOL, Va. — Union’s strong pack running couldn’t overcome Abingdon’s top finishes Wednesday at the Mountain 7 District cross country championships at Sugar Hollow Park.
With a 1-2-3 finish among individuals on the boys side, the Falcons took a 26-34 win over Union. Abingdon finished 1-2 in the girls race for a 38-42 win over Wise Central.
Isaac Thiessen was the boys individual champion with a run of 16:14.1 over the challenging Sugar Hollow 3-mile course. Dylan Phillips (16:57.2) was second, followed by Jack Bundy (17:10.7) on a sunny, warm day.
“It was some tough competition and not the usual end-of-the-season cross country weather,” Abingdon coach Allyson Newton said. “Union has a fabulous boys team, a tough group of competitors for us, and the Wise Central girls is a phenomenal group. Our finishes up front were hard to beat. We had a game plan, and our runners executed it.”
Union followed its own game plan to finish second. The Bears took the 4-7 spots with Asher Whitt (18:07), Ben Hersel (18:28), Mason Bryington (18:31) and Dorian Almer (18:33). Gavin Bolling finished 13th for the final Union score. While they were successful packing together, it wasn’t enough against the fast Falcons.
“That was our game plan as we have kids a little injured right now,” Union coach Mark Castle said. “They still weren’t far off what they normally do. We had some young guys step up, but Abingdon has such an amazing team. For a short season, this was a great race for all of these teams. ”
Whitt talked about the challenges the athletes faced after weeks of running in much cooler weather.
“We’ve been training in a lot cooler climate, and the heat definitely affected us and our times today,” Whitt said. “I felt hot and my legs got tired, but I felt pretty good overall.”
Gate City finished a distant third. Will Miller ran 18:34 to finish eighth, the top finish for the Blue Devils. Ethan Dingus, Samuel Casteel, Kai Wei Ni and Dominic Benjamin posted the other scores.
“It was the first run where they had to deal with the heat, but I thought they adapted well,” Gate City coach Shawn Becker said. “It’s a tough little course, but most of the kids really like to run here. It’s one of their favorites.”
In a changed format from recent years, the top three teams and the next 10 individuals advance to Wednesday’s Region 2D meet at Sugar Hollow.
Abingdon automatically advances to the Region 3D meet at the Smith River Sports Complex in Bassett on Thursday.
Makaleigh Jessee won the girls race at 19:43.1, well ahead of Abingdon teammate Cecelia Johnson at 21:11.1.
Wise Central’s Lydia Slemp (22:25), Gate City’s Suzanne Moore (23:07) and Wise Central’s Isabella Sturgill (24:13) rounded out the top five.
Julia Bocanegra (25:31) finished eighth for Gate City. For Wise Central, other scores came from Sarah Slemp (26:37), Sophia Stallard (26:59) and Alissa Green (27:13).