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Cross country: Salisbury girls win county meet

By Bret Strelow
bstrelow@salisburypost.com
West Rowan’s Leslie Pence reached the finish line first, and a runner in pink shoes crossed next.
Another pink pair came into view, meaning Emily Shields had prevented twin sister Katherine Shields from creating much separation.
The Salisbury sophomores placed second and third to lead the Hornets to the girls title in the Rowan County Cross Country Meet at Dan Nicholas Park. Salisbury totaled 36 points, half second-place South Rowan’s number.
Katherine Shields was the runner-up for the second straight year, and Emily Shields improved dramatically. She completed the 3.1-mile course in 20 minutes, 31 seconds after finishing 13th with a time of 24:00 in 2007.
“Last year she wasn’t near this close to me, so she’s gotten a lot faster,” Katherine Shields said. “We’re really competitive in cycling and running against each other, so she likes to stay with me as long as she can.”
Pence, another sophomore, won with a time of 20:01 and beat Katherine Shields by 19 seconds.
Brooke Johnson also earned all-county recognition from Salisbury, which won its third straight title, by placing sixth overall with a time of 21:28. Katelyn Horning (12th) and Jenna Bryan (13th) rounded out the scoring for the Hornets, who received a top-20 showing from Margaret Kaufman (18th). Laurel Loeblein took 22nd.
Salisbury also put three runners in the top 10 last year, when Emily Shields finished 11 seconds behind the final all-county performer. Katherine Shields held off her sister by that margin Thursday.
“We push each other a lot, and I push her more this year because I’m closer to her,” Emily Shields said.
Johnson, a senior standout on Salisbury’s state-ranked tennis team, is participating in cross country for the first time.
She helped the Hornets clinch a sixth consecutive CCC tennis title Wednesday and competed in her second meet of the season Thursday. She said tennis coach Chris Myers encouraged her to run.
“I came into it wanting to do it for fun because I really enjoy running,” Johnson said. “(Coach Trella) McLean said she’d love to have me out here to help out the team. I really didn’t come in with many expectations, but I’m pretty happy with how I’ve done.”
Emily Kinney (fourth, 21:17) and Camille Craddock (eighth) made the all-county team from South, and West’s Taylor Bryan (seventh) joined Pence on the squad. East Rowan had one representative: ninth-place Taylor Arey. Carson’s Sierra Zemanick (fifth, 21:22) and Alex Hunter also finished in the top 10.
Rainy, windy conditions created faster times. The first nine finishers broke 22 minutes, and only two runners accomplished that feat on a hot afternoon last September.
“My last meet it was raining and it was a good race for me,” Pence said, “so I think this is good weather to run in.”

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