Fort Mill’s Alivia Cleveland nears the finish line in the 5A state cross country championships Thursday in Columbia.

COLUMBIA – The Fort Mill Yellow Jackets brought home several trophies and a state champion from the 5A state cross-country championships Thursday.

Freshman Alivia Cleveland led the way winning the 5A girls race in 18:30 to become the sixth consecutive individual state champion in the sport from Fort Mill Township dating back to Katie Pou’s first individual state championship for Nation Ford in 2017. Pou won individual titles 2017 through 2020 and Sam Rich for Catawba Ridge won individual titles in 2020 and 2021. Cleveland is the first state cross country champion for the Jackets since Meredith Kilburn in 2011 and the second female to win a state title in the sport for Fort Mill.

The race was run on a cool overcast day at the Sandhills Research Center, which played right into what Cleveland likes.

“It was definitely good for the weather,” Cleveland said. “It wasn’t easy, there were people pushing me.”

Fort Mill girls finished second overall in the team standings with 101 points, behind Lexington’s state championship winning 62 points. Nation Ford finished eighth overall with 275 points.

Following Cleveland’s time was Avery Moriarty in eighth at 19:50, followed by Kaylee Rovenstine in 14th at 20:00. All three of them were named to the All-State team. Mia Zook finished in 35th at 20:35 for Fort Mill and Lauren Fredenberg rounded out the scoring in 48th at 21:06.

Junior Mia Royall led Nation Ford girls with a fourth-place finish in 19:12. She was followed by Alaina Mahmood in 65th at 21:41 and Taylor Battle in 68th at 21:44. Elise Posko finished in 76th at 21:55 and Peyton MacMillian rounded out the scoring in 86th at 21:12.

In the boy’s race, Fort Mill finished behind Wando’s 41 points, as the Jackets came in second with 79 points. Last year, the Fort Mill boys won the 5A state championship, and despite coming up short Thursday, Jackets’ head coach Lee Whitaker said he was proud of the season for both teams.

“I am super happy for the kids because of how hard they fought all season,” Whitaker said. “They showed up and gave us a chance.”

Fort Mill had three runners in the top 10 with Evan Ickert finishing seventh in 16:14, Evan Wey in ninth at 16:16 and Devon Sibley in 10th at 16:16. Wey and Sibley finished within 0.15 of each other.

Isaac Campbell was 18th for Fort Mill in 16:37 and Hugo Luck rounded out the scoring in 36th at 17:07 for the Jackets.

The Nation Ford boys finished third with 91 points. Mason Haynes was second overall in 15:37, behind Wando’s Jake Liebert, who won in 15:13. Following Haynes was Alan Dayrit at 16:18 in 11th and Townsend Smith in 19th at 16:39. Chase Johnson finished in 21st at 16:43 and Alexander Bentley finished the scoring for the Falcons in 39th at 17:10.

“When you compare it to what we did last year, it is a good testament to what we have been doing,” said Nation Ford head coach Sebastian Tellez.  

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

Nation Ford’s Mason Haynes (number 141) led the Falcons to a third-place finish and finished second overall in the 5A boy’s race.