North Stokes sophomore runner Abigail Hemric fought through rainy conditions on Saturday and ran her personal best at Ivey Redman Sports Complex in the 1A NCHSAA State Cross Country meet finishing second behind state champion Caitlyn Burkett of Franklin Academy with a time of 19:46.39.
“I’m really happy with my time and finish,” said Hemric. “My goal was to place higher than last year and I did. I just wanted to pace myself and stay within my race and see where it took me.”
Last season as a freshman, she placed ninth at the state level. This year, she was more than 20 seconds faster and paced herself through the 115 runners.
“She has a strategy,” said longtime Viking coach Jimmy Dillard. “She doesn’t have the fastest kick starting a race and there were several runners within the first 200 yards out in front of her, but she has a nice fast pace and was able to catch those girls in the first mile and then hang with Burkett. I’m so happy for her and the improvements she has made this season. She is a hard worker and pushes herself.”
Franklin Academy won the team state championship with a score of 36, followed by Lincoln Charter (74) and then Murphy (123).
Later in the afternoon, the women’s 2A race was completed as the rainy conditions worsened. West Stokes junior Erin Duke placed 23rd overall with a time of 20:24.90, more than 20 seconds slower than her personal best at the complex.
“I finished higher than the 30th place I was predicted to finish,” Duke said. “For my first state meet in cross country I am happy with the results, but felt the weather conditions played a part in my finish today. I enjoy cross country, but I use it to prepare myself for indoor track in the winter, which is my best sport.”
Duke ran in the regionals as a freshman, but failed to qualify for the state meet. Coming into last season, she was predicted to have a strong finish and race in her first state competition, but an injury ended her season early.
“I’m happy for Erin,” said Wildcat coach Benji Knox. “She works really hard and pushes herself. I felt she ran the first two mile as well as she has all year. She is such a good kid and is really easy to coach because of her work ethic. I look forward to her getting stronger and faster during the indoor season, which starts next week.”
In the 2A team competition, Lake Norman Charter School finished first.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.