The Augusta State men’s cross country team is gearing up for the NCAA Southeast Regional in Charlotte, N.C.
Head coach Adam Ward’s team finished the year with back-to-back wins and won three of the five meets they entered this year.
The squad was victorious in September in the season’s second meet, the Bridgestone Pacer Invitational. A pair of Columbia County runners helped lead the way. Robert Blackwelder, a sophomore from Greenbrier, and Jaiden Brandt, a freshman from Augusta Christian, finished seventh and eighth, respectively, to assist the Jags in their team victory. The win was big, considering the team would return to Pacer Path in Aiken a month later for the Peach Belt Conference championships.
Prior to the championship meet, the team took the title at The Jaguar Invitational. The 8K race was held in Evans at Blanchard Woods Park. Again, Blackwelder and Brandt played key roles in the Jags victory. This time Blackwelder took third and Brandt took fourth.
The duo also stepped up big for the Jags in the Conference Championships.
Brandt had the team’s second-best time with a career-best 26:58.62, good for seventh place, while Blackwelder finished in 11th place, with a time of 27:11.87.
During his prep career, Blackwelder helped guide Greenbrier to four consecutive region titles in cross country. Last season, as a freshman, he was named second team All-Peach Belt Conference after earning four top-10 finishes.
Brandt is enjoying an outstanding freshman campaign. While at Augusta Christian, he was a two-time All-State performer. He is the son of USC Aiken women’s basketball coach Mike Brandt.
Next up for the red-hot squad is the NCAA Southeast Regional. There they will try to qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will take place Nov. 19 in Spokane, Wash.
Other team members from Columbia County include Barrett Duncan (sophomore, Greenbrier), Tyler Huggins (sophomore, Evans), and Sean Kramer (sophomore, Greenbrier).