O’Neal cross country runs strong finish

The O’Neal Varsity Cross Country team made sure to save their best for last this season seeing personal records for every runner during the final week of the season.

The Falcons hosted the 2021 Tri-TAC Cross Country Championship meet on their home course. The girl’s team finished in 3rd place and the boys finished in 2nd. Podiuming for the Falcons individually were Corbin Weeks (3rd) and Grace Simpson (2nd). In addition, Ava Taylor Walker, Janna Caviness, and Charlie Kuzma joined Simpson and Weeks on the Tri-TAC All-Conference team.

“We were really pleased with our performance at the conference meet. For our girls to finish only one point away from the runner-up spot was huge,” reflected Head Coach Heather Weeks. “We are a small team with a few brand-new runners, and they have stepped up in a big way. Three of our five ran season or personal bests on our hilly home course. The boys have had one of the most successful seasons in our program’s recent history. Finishing second to BCA, the top-seeded team in the state, was a confidence-booster. The pack of top 7 is running fairly tight which is exactly what we need heading into the state championship.”

A tight pack is exactly what the Falcons saw just a week later at the NCISAA 2A State Meet. The Falcons rose to the occasion in more ways than one and accomplished what most sports teams dream about — “It was a perfect day,” exclaimed Coach Weeks.

A perfect day it was, as every Falcon runner ran a personal best time. The Falcons were led by their dynamic duo of Grace Simpson and Corbin Weeks. Simpson, a sophomore, posted a 19:53 to finish 5th and earn a place on the All-State team. Joining Simpson, 8th grader Corbin Weeks raced a 17.22 earning a 4th place finish and joining the All-State team. The Falcons saw numerous Top 25 finishes including Ava Taylor Walker (23rd), Charlie Kuzma (19th), and Oscar Little (25th). As a team, the boys brought home a 3rd place finish and the girls finished in 7th place.

“Friday’s State Championship meet was just about as perfect as anybody could have imagined,” reflected Coach Weeks. “Every single athlete on our team ran a personal best. Not just a season-best! I looked through the results, and no other team in NCISAA Division 2A can say the same. It has been an absolute pleasure coaching this group and I can’t wait to see what these young Falcons accomplish in future seasons.”

O’Neal is a part of the Triangle Triad Athletic Conference (TRI-TAC) and is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Wells Fargo Cup, recognizing O’Neal for having the top athletics program among Division 2 independent schools.

Feature photo by Wendy Hodges.

Written by Sandhills Sentinel contributor Lulu Brase.



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