It was over the river and through the woods, but this wasn't a fairy tale playing out last weekend at the Brierpatch.
A pair of South Carolina prep squads crossed the Savannah River on buses, then cruised through the woods on foot en route to cross-country titles Saturday at the Columbia County Invitational.
Ridge View High School won the boys meet, and Spring Valley High School claimed the girls competition, but that's not the end of the story.
The Columbia County Invitational was a perfect warmup for runners from Greenbrier, Evans and Lakeside high schools heading into their region meets this week.
"The kids all probably ran their personal-best times today, and that's all you can ask for," Evans coach Mike Lennox said. "We're kind of gelling as a team, and that's what you're looking for at the tail end of the season."
Greenbrier's Tyler Hayden crosses the finish line in the Columbia County Invitational meet Saturday.
Photo by Mike Howell
Evans competes in the Region 7-AAAAA meet Saturday at Shamrock Middle School in Decatur. Lakeside and Greenbrier reconvene at 10 a.m. today for the Region 3-AAAA meet at the Brierpatch.
At the region competitions, the top two teams and top six individuals qualify for state, while the third and fourth place teams go to sectional qualifying for a second chance to earn a trip to the state meet at Carrollton High School on Nov. 8.
The Lady Knights placed second in the Columbia County Invitational, and a runner-up finish at region might be the best they can hope for.
"Lakeside-DeKalb is one of the top teams in the state," Lennox said. "We're not quite at that level yet, but give us a few years."
Greenbrier's runners have already arrived. The Lady Wolfpack has won seven straight region titles, and the boys have chalked up six cross-country crowns.
The Lady Wolfpack, led by a runner-up showing by Bridget Lyons in the individual race, placed third at the Columbia County Invitational. The Greenbrier boys also took third.
Greenbrier is favored to hoist more hardware this week at region, and the hopes are high for state, where the Wolfpack placed ninth last season.
"We just want to keep it up and show everybody we can do it," Pack junior Miguel Mota said after finishing third at last weekend's meet. "This year we're trying to place in the top eight at state, but we've got some work to do. We're not there yet."
Columbia County Invitational
Boys: Spring Valley 30, Ridge View 45, Greenbrier 65, Evans 111, Union Grove 164, Lakeside 166, Aiken 199, North Augusta 219, Jones County 252. Individual champion: Brian Raymond, Spring Valley (16:11).
Girls: Ridge View 30, Evans 51, Greenbrier 57, Lakeside 135, Union Grove 136, North Augusta 145, Aiken 155, Jones County 196. Individual champion: Lisa Jennings, Ridge View (20:13).
Top 20 Columbia County finishers
Boys: 3. Miguel Mota, Greenbrier; 4. Tyler Warren, Greenbrier; 11. Tyler Hayden, Greenbrier; 12. Steven Lowe, Evans; 15. Drew Hess, Evans.
Girls: 2. Bridget Lyons, Greenbrier; 4. Amanda Griffin, Evans; 6. Ellen Kist, Lakeside; 8. Angela Griffin, Evans; 9. Holly Hess, Evans; 10. Michelle Swiec, Greenbrier; 12. Karen Nowling, Evans; 13. Tabitha Pilgrim, Greenbrier; 17. Kaycee Quarles, Greenbrier; 18. Leandra Martin, Evans; 19. Renee Jones, Greenbrier.
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