REYNOLDS – David Honea is pleasantly surprised to coach a cross country team that is ahead of his own expectations.
The Reynolds boys are ahead a lot, period.
Wednesday’s United Way Invitational is one of the largest annual meets in the western half of the state. And the Rockets won it with relative ease.
Reynolds (88 points) was the premier team out of 18 that ran the Southside Park course in Newton. Runner-up West Iredell had 122 points.
Scoring runners for Reynolds were Dwayne Lillie (sixth place, 16 minutes, 22.81 seconds), Noah Clifford (eighth place, 16:29.74), Neil Rogers (17th place, 16:59.13), Zeke Trezise (21st place, 17:07.02) and Thad McNeil (42nd place, 17:38.85).
Of that group, only Trezise is a senior.
“This is my fourth year here and last year was the first time we had made it to the state meet since 1997,” Honea said.
“We came in last place (16th), but only lost one senior from that lineup. We’ve had to rebuild a lot (in recent years), and the guys have made a lot of progress. Now the big step up is that they not only want to make state this year, they want to have a presence.”
Lillie is one of the fastest freshman in the state and Clifford is only a sophomore. Rogers (junior) and McNeil (sophomore) also have lots more miles to run for the Rockets, as do two other runners who lined up Wednesday — sophomores Lawson Robertson and Henry Klesius.
“We knew that Dwayne was going to be good,” Honea said.
“We didn’t know he was going to be this good and to have four sophomores in our top-seven is tremendous. Every one of those guys have made across the board improvements since last year. They’ve decided they want to be good at this. The guys took it upon themselves to ask me if I’d open up the locker room if they did morning runs. In my head, I was thinking sure, I’ll bring the bagels, too.”
Monday’s Mountain Athletic Conference meet is at Asheville Christian Academy. The boys race begins at 5 p.m., followed by the girls at 5:40.