Panthers cross country on right path

Published 7:51 pm Thursday, November 10, 2011

YEATESVILLE — The Northside cross country team is heading down the right path as its young group of runners wrapped up a fantastic season by placing 14th in NCHSAA 1-A state cross country meet in Kernersville last weekend. The team features five freshmen but they all ran like veterans as they helped the Panthers win the Four Rivers Conference title and place third in the regional meet before it headed to state. Freshman Savannah Bunn paced the Panthers at state as she ran a 23.38:84 to place 77th in Kernersville. Bunn’s performance, along with the work of fellow freshman Tori Dupree, Jethzabel Alonso, Caroline Sherman and MacKenzie Taylor, along with Elizabeth Bowen, Hope Robinson, Brandi Jordan have second-year coach Benjamin Boyd excited about the future. “In the preseason I knew I had a group that could be good, but part of me thought that this year would be all about the learning experience,” Boyd said. “It turns out they performed and surpassed some of the things the team from last year did. “It surprised me at first but then I thought about how hard these girls have been working and how much they stuck with it even through injuries and off days.” Boyd graduated from Northside in 2006 and ran cross country under former coach Charlie Woolard and said he learned a few things from his mentor. “I ran when Sgt. Woolard was here when I was a senior,” Boyd said. “I learned what it took to get somewhere and succeed. You have to learn how to tolerate physical pain before anything else and you have to learn how to improve otherwise you won’t go anywhere.” Boyd also said he has learned a lot from long-time cross country enthusiast Bob Girani. When Boyd went on his honeymoon during the Four Rivers Conference championship meet, it was Girani who led the team to victory in his absence. Boyd was pleasantly surprised by a lot of his team’s actions this year, especially its ability to learn on the fly. “While they were learning the sport they were excelling at it,” Boyd said. “Which means in the next couple of years this team is going to be able to perform at a higher level and will be very competitive from here on out.” Boyd said another thing that makes the group special is the chemistry between the runners. “They have cooperated very well, they cheer each other on and support each other,” Boyd said. “Days where one of them might be having an off day they will buddy up and team together to try and speed that other person along.” The rapid pace in which this young team learned and performed has Boyd feeling confident about the team’s prospects next season and beyond. “This team, depending on what they all do in the offseason and if they stick with it; I think winning conference will be very easy to accomplish every year,” Boyd said. “I think we can be more competitive at regionals; I envision a top-three or top-four from here on out as long as they maintain their stamina and practice in the offseason.”