North Buncombe senior Travis Leppi began to sprint well before he saw the finish line Wednesday.
And long after Leppi’s final stride, the boys individual winner of the Mountain Athletic Conference cross country meet was still trying to fully catch his breath.
“That’s probably the longest kick I’ve ever had,” said Leppi, who placed fourth at the 2012 MAC meet.
“I’m so worn out. I’m happy I won. No matter how hard you work, sometimes it just comes down to who wants it the most.”
Leppi (16 minutes, 34 seconds) held off runner-up Noah Shore (16:41.60) from Asheville High, but the Cougars (33 points) put three others runners in the top-10 to win the 3-A boys championship. Roberson (56) was the 4-A team winner.
Other scoring runners for Asheville were Jacob Schattel (fifth place, 17:06.20), Zach Tacy (sixth, 17:12.20), Eli Cartier (seventh, 17:15.30) and Sam Gucciardo (13th, 17:36.70).
In the the girls race junior Lily Anderson (18:24.90) led the Rams (26 points) to the 4-A championship. Individual runner-up Anna Vess (18:41.70) was the top finisher for 3-A champion Reynolds (40).
She and Anderson traded the lead for the first half of the 3.1-mile race. Anderson also won the Buncombe County championship on the same ACA course on Sept. 4.
Anderson’s time on Wednesday was about 30 seconds faster.
“We’re still doing a lot of tough workouts, so everyone is a little sore, but it was a good day,” Anderson said.
“Anna definitely pushed me today and (teammate Casey Greenwalt) was under 19 minutes, too. Hopefully, our team can finish out the season strong.”
In addition to Anderson and Greenwalt (third place, 18:53.10), the scoring runners for Roberson were Rachel Koon (sixth, 19:39.40), Camille Long (seventh, 19:40.30) and Anastasia Soule (ninth, 20:06.50).
The top-11 runners in each race were considered All-MAC selections.
Next up for the MAC’s distance athletes are the 3-A and 4-A Western Regional meets on Oct. 26. Both will take place at Charlotte’s McAlpine Park.