COMPILED BY AUSTIN BAILEY

RUTHERFORDTON — With the North Carolina High School Athletic Association cross country season quickly approaching, several R-S Central runners, all running unattached, recently participated in multiple meets in preparation for the 2020-2021 season.

The first of which was held at Fletcher Park as part of the “Pop Up 5K Series.” The runners had staggered start times, which enabled social distancing to be practiced. Runners from AC Reynolds and North Henderson attended the event as well. R-S Central runners, running unattached, were Christopher Upton, Van Robbins, Zach Lewis, John Marsh, Christian Wilson, Gabe Pace, Kiefer Whiteside, Cori Keever, Felicity Johnson, Jodi Howard and Phoebe Ankrom.

ResultsUpton (2nd, 16:40); Robbins (7th, 18:28); Salyers (11th, 19:30), Lewis (12th, 19:40); Marsh (16th, 20:30); Wilson (22nd, 21:37), Pace (31st, 23:00); Whiteside (34th, 23:37), Keever (39th, 25:27); Johnson (50th, 28:42); Howard (57th, 30:15); Ankrom (58th, 30:24).

NC Runners EliteUpton had a stellar performance at the NC Runners Elite Invitational in Kernersville on Saturday, Oct. 10. The event featured private schools and unattached runners from various North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) classifications, including the top-five returning 2A cross country runners: Upton, Elliott Kleckner (Croaton), Miles Phillips (North Lincoln), Walter Sellers (Atkins) and Ryker Mattioli. According to R-S Central cross country coach Andrew Dorsey, Upton ran a deliberate race, running a 5:05 first mile. Upton then passed approximately 25 runners in the last mile and a half and nearly passed all four of the other top-five 2A runners, finishing just behind Kleckner, who finished fourth.

Upton ultimately finished in fifth with a time of 16:08.45.

ACA Home MeetThis past Wednesday, several R-S runners, running unattached, participated in a meet at Asheville Christian in Swannanoa. Marsh ran a milestone race as he broke the 20 minute mark with a time of 19:36. Dorsey credited Marsh’s work ethic in his improvement of time by four minutes from his personal record from last year. Whiteside was unable to finish the race due to a rolled ankle.

Dorsey was also complimentary of Gracey Lane, who dealt with nagging ailments all last season, but started her year off with a strong performance.

ResultsLane finished with a time of 22:40.65, good for 20th place.

Upton (1st, 16:24.82); Robbins (8th, 18:29.89); Marsh (17th, 19:36.27); Garry Ankrom (26th; 21:01.08); (Wilson (30th, 22:10.48). Lake Lure Classical Academy’s Oska Gobin finished in 12th place with a time of 19:03.44.