COLUMBIA – Catawba Ridge’s Sam Rich was dominating yet again sprinting to his second consecutive individual 4A state cross country championship Thursday morning at the Sandhills Research Center.
The Catawba Ridge boys finished second overall at a team in the 4A race with 114 points, while Greenville edged them out to win the 4A title with 104 points. The Catawba Ridge girls team finished sixth in the state overall as James Island won the 4A girls’ title.
Rich crossed the finished line first in 15:20, nearly 31 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher Knox Young from Greenville.
“I had a game plan of getting out early and setting my own pace and tempo,” Rich said. “I thought I did a good job doing that. That course was a little difficult because it kept switching to sand and you would get no traction. It fatigued me a little bit. I felt good about the race.”
This year’s course was different than last year as it often changes from year to year for the runners. Rich was able to handle this year’s change in stride.
“They made it a little bit harder,” he said. “Overall, I liked it.”
Rich remains the only state champion for the school in only its third year of existence as he has extended his young legacy Thursday. On Wednesday, he signed with the University of Notre Dame to run both cross country and track next year for the Irish.
“Definitely one of my goals was to win state,” he said. “I know the team did really well. It is really exciting to get to win state again.”
Catawba Ridge head coach David Helms said he was proud of how the boys team did in finishing second. He knew it was going to be a close finish before results were announced.
“The kids ran the race they needed to run today,” he said.
Besides Rich, Joshua Silverman, who recently signed to run at the College of Charleston, finished ninth overall in 16:40 and was named to the All-State team with Rich. Ty Massey finished 32nd in 17:30 and Jackson Rozelle was 35th in 17:33, while Spencer Predmore was 41st to round out the scoring for Catawba Ridge in 17:44.
For the girls, Catawba Ridge was led by Maddy Mack who was 18th overall in 20:13, followed by Haya Banish in 50th in 21:39 and Alexandra Cardozo in 56th in 21:49. Shay Studley was 59th in 21:56 and Talia Gluff was 60th in 22:01.
The 5A state championship is set to be held Friday, Nov. 12 at the same location.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep