BATTLEBORO – It’s a simple system that keeps Northern Nash near the top of the Big East Conference: Do well on one’s own and the team success will follow.
The Knights stuck to that formula Wednesday as there were few surprises in the Big East meet at Red Oak Middle School. Northern Nash, led by first-place finisher Stephen Whitehead, took first place in the boys’ race, and Rocky Mount High comfortably won the girls’ race thanks to three top-six finishers.
“Individually, they did their jobs,” Northern Nash coach Jeff Dodrill said of his boys’ team. “Collectively, they won the meet.”
Whitehead finished nearly a minute in front of the second-place finisher to lead the Knights. He shaved 31 seconds off his time from the previous Big East meet Sept. 18 at Nash Central High School and received support from teammates Coleman Cherry (seventh) and Jermain Jones (ninth) to help the Knights earn a victory.
The important part for Whitehead has been his health. He injured his hip running track in the summer, but now he’s beginning to come back to baseline.
“The past few races, I’ve still been struggling with that,” Whitehead said. “I’m just getting over it.”
Rocky Mount won the girls’ race by 31 points. Barkley Browder finished in second with a time of 20:55, Mary McCall Leland finished fourth at 21:18 and Alexis Bryant took sixth with 21:58.
The times almost universally were faster Wednesday than a week before at Nash Central, but that’s what the coaches had expected.
“I think the later you get in the season, the faster you’re going to see the kids run,” Dodrill said. “With this being a cooler day, most of the kids ran fast (Wednesday).”
Nash Central had only four runners on the girls’ side and did not qualify as a team, though senior Michaela Williams finished third overall.
The Bulldogs’ boys team took third as Montre Cash (18:23) took fourth and Chris Moore (18:25) finished fifth.
Rocky Mount finished in second on the boys’ side, led by Zach Shea’s 18:05, which finished third overall.
Southern Nash finished fifth in both races, but coach Eddie Coble was pleased with the progress his squads have made so far.
“We’ve still got a month to go before the end, so I feel really good where we are right now,” Coble said. “I don’t know if we can win conference or not, but we’re going to give it our best shot at that last meet. I think my kids have finally started to buy in to what we’re doing, so I feel good about it.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com