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Regional champion Pine Lake runs way into 1A state finals
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Regional champion Pine Lake runs way into 1A state finals

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Ladies first.

Pine Lake Prep’s girls cross country team followed the fastest and therefore the quickest path possible to assure its full roster’s presence as far into this unusual season’s schedule as possible.

The Pride, the only local girls entry in the field, rode the combined positions of their top handful of finishers to fashion the lowest overall score – the ultimate goal – to post a first-place and – as a result – team gold medal-winning foot feat in the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 1A class-level Midwest Regional Cross Country Championship Meet.

Pine Lake, also the pride – fittingly – of its PAC-7 Conference ranks, used the overall finishing placements of its fastest five key contributing runners to accumulate a team total of 37 points that placed it a comfortable near double-digit figure lower than any of the other teams in attendance also forming the field.

As a result, the Pride received an automatic full team invite into later this week’s NCHSAA 1A Cross Country Championship Meet that will be doing more than just bringing the Pride’s current campaign to a close.

In addition to allowing PLP to head into the state finals as one of the four winners from various regional competitions also conducted across the state, this year’s appearance in the 1A finale will also account for the girls program’s final showing as a participant in that particular classification. Due to the school’s increase in its student population, Pine Lake will begin the state’s 2021-22 schools sports year as a first-time-ever member of the 2A class ranks.

As for now, though, the Pride is focused on its task at hand.

Convening on the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex course in Kernersville for the 1A Midwest Regional, Pine Lake rode the efforts of as many as two team members logging in with placements among the top-10 runners to cross the event’s finish line and surrounded those efforts with enough supporting-cast acts to tally a low enough of a point total to capture the coveted team title.

The top team achievement was also rewarded post-race with a plaque presentation.

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For the Pride, pacing the performance was the overall silver-medal-winning feat put forth by freshman Abby Pike that topped the team’s chart and accounted for a second-place finish overall.

Also for the regional queens, the Pride’s sophomore Caroline Ingram also clocked in with a top-10 effort as a result of her ninth-place finish.

Additionally aiding the cause included the placements put forth by the crew comprised of 11th-place finishing Ashley Jones, 13th-place finishing Rylee Hegedus and 21st-place finishing Lauren Neal.

As is the case with all cross country meets, teams tally together the overall finishes of their five fastest entries to account for a final score. Cross country is one of the few sports in which the lower the number the better.

As a result of the first-place Midwest Regional accomplishment, Pine Lake qualifies as a complete unit for participation in the NCHSAA 1A class state finals. From regional fields, all members of all teams placing among the top four merit such a reward. All remaining limited berths, cut shorter than usual this season due to COVID-19, are earned by the runners placing among the top seven who are not members of any of the qualifying teams.

It was that particular regard that was used by the only member of the Pine Lake Prep boys team to also garner a state championship meet invite.

The Pride’s Conner Detiveraux parlayed his overall 13th-place finish into the receiving of one of the seven individual bids extended to those runners not on any of the top-four finishing teams. PLP’s boys just missed making the list as a team by placing fifth overall with a team total of 111 points.

Other runners using their efforts to count for the Pride included Corbin Hasslinger, Sutherland Fox Tran, Adar Avsian and K.J. Grossbeck.

Also, Langtree Charter Academy’s Cole Metzler was the only Lions participant in the field. His finish just did miss the cut for earning an individual bid to the state finals.

Pine Lake’s girls entry will now swagger into this week’s 1A Cross Country Championship Meet on track to return to the scene of its most recent title trek. As it turns out, this season’s state meet will also be held at the same Ivey Redmon Sports Complex site that hosted the Midwest Regional event.

The Pride will take the area’s only girls connection into the main attraction that will feature an afternoon start time on Saturday. Appearing in the finale will also draw Pine Lake’s cross country campaign and its current classification status in the sport to a close as well.

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