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Blue Devils roll to team sweep; Cress, Hicks take individual honors in Cumberland XC

Tanner Cook • Oct 30, 2019 at 10:19 PM

DUFFIELD — A little rain and a lot of mud could not stop the runners at Wednesday afternoon’s Cumberland District cross country championships at Natural Tunnel State Park.

Castlewood swept the team titles and nearly did the same on the individual honors, but the Blue Devils came up just a second short of taking home all of the gold.

HICKS CONTINUES STRONG CAMPAIGN

Castlewood’s Hunter Hicks was the only area All-State runner in cross country last year in horrid conditions at Great Meadow, finishing in 14th place. This fall, he’s looking to make another push for that honor and hoping his team can bring back some hardware to Russell County as well.

Castlewood had four in the top 10 and all of its scoring five were in the top 13 for a total of 24 points, barely beating out J.I. Burton in second with 30.

“I felt like we did great as a team,” Hicks said. “They’ve all been bringing it every race this year, and hopefully we can win the region next week.”

Hicks, bloody nose and all, won individual honors after taking control on the large inclines just after a mile and had a sizable margin coming back into view from the finish line. He crossed the line in 18:57.

“I felt good about my race. The wet and muddy ground is kind of sketchy, and I had to take it slow going around turns and down hills, but it felt like a good run,” Hicks said. “I don’t know what caused my nose to bleed. I just went to spit one time and saw it was red. This year, I feel much better going into region and state than I did last year, and I feel like I’ve had much smarter races.”

Castlewood freshman Adam Gibson was the runner-up in 19:18. Last year’s district champion, Owen Lindsey of J.I. Burton, finished third in 19:29.

CRESS BREAKS AWAY LATE

Eastside sophomore Gracie Cress won her second consecutive district championship with a time of 26:35 using the same strategy as last year — pulling away with less than 200 meters to go to take the honors.

Cress and Castlewood’s Adrianna Hall (second in 26:36) were together most of the way and far ahead of third place. Both of them fell a few times in the closing miles of the race and showed good sportsmanship by helping one another up.

The Lady Blue Devils took home the honors with 19 points, easily outdistancing runner-up J.I. Burton’s 36 points.

Since both the boys and girls races had the minimum number of runners in the race, everyone qualified for next week’s Region 1D meet.

UP NEXT

The Region 1D championships will be held next Wednesday afternoon at Veldon Dotson Park in Wise. The girls race will go off at 1 p.m., and the boys will follow at 1:45 p.m.

The top three teams and top five individuals not on a qualifying team will move on to the VHSL Class 1 state meet in Salem on Nov. 16.

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