Mitchell junior Zach Boone sloshed through mud for 3.1 miles Wednesday afternoon and had plenty of the grime on his purple uniform afterward.
Boone has overcome much worse than a messy course to become the odds-on favorite to win the NCHSAA 1-A cross country championship in November.
Just days after running a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 37.47 seconds on the state meet course in Kernersville (located just east of Winston-Salem), Boone lined up and won Wednesday’s Asheville Christian Academy Invitational (16:42.31).
Carolina Day freshman Ralene Kwiatkowski was the girls individual winner with a personal record of 19:16.52, while the Asheville School boys (65 points) and Reynolds girls (55) were the team champions.
“Cross country is my favorite (sport), so I really want to win state,” said Boone, who was the 1-A state track champion in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs last spring.
“My race on Saturday was a (personal record) by 27 seconds. I just felt great the entire time and I was running with some of the very top guys in the state.”
Boone has been the Western Highlands Conference’s cross country runner of the year as a freshman and sophomore, but on a statewide level, still wonders what might have been in 2012.
Boone is a vegan, and said he was cooking garbanzo beans in the family Crock Pot two days before the NCHSAA 1-A meet. As he prepared to leave the kitchen, the pot turned over and scalded his legs with second and third-degree burns.
Boone still ran the meet, coming in fourth (16:31.02). Boone attributes that showing to his faith — he is a member of Rebels Creek Baptist Church in Mitchell County.
“I got through it, and I thank God for that,” Boone said.
“It was because of my own stupidity, but it felt so good to run that it was probably the best meet of my life.”
Boone’s time on Saturday is 22 seconds faster than the one belonging to last year’s 1-A state champion, Hayesville’s Dylan Johnson (15:59.93).
Asheville School’s Will Campbell (17:11.22) was the runner-up to Boone on Wednesday, while the rest of the Blues’ scoring runners were Brett Somogye (fifth place, 17:39.62), Sam Goldstein (11th, 18:10.80), Otto Putzrath (17th, 19:02.54) and Jody Anderson (30th, 20:02.57).
CDS runner wins
Kwiatkowski’s win was the second of her young career, and like Boone, she broke away from the rest of the field in the meet’s first mile.
“My goal is to win state and so far everything is going good,” said Kwiatkowski, who previously competed for Enka Middle School.
“It was muddy today, but it was colder outside, too. It was a good day to run.”
Reynolds’ Anna Vess came in second (20:45.59) to Kwiatkowski, while the rest of the scoring runners for the Rockets were Christen Ray (fourth place, 21:17.00), Samantha Boeshore (16th, 22:23.73), Lana Reeves (21st, 22:56.59) and Sophie Pruett (23rd, 23:02.65).