NPC Boys Cross Country: South’s York, East’s team win
By David Shaw
Go ahead and call it home field advantage. East Rowan boys cross-country coach Rick Roseman did.
“If that’s what they want to say, that’s fine,” Roseman said with a grin Wednesday at Dan Nicholas Park, where the Mustangs collected their first North Piedmont Conference championship since 2002. “We’ll take it. We do come over here and practice just about every day. So yeah, if that helps us we’ll take it.”
East took it because it bunched seven finishers among the top 13, totaled 27 team points and fended off runnerup South Rowan (40). South junior Michael York won the 5,000-meter sprint in 16:40.2, edging East senior Ross Oden by nine seconds.
“It’s an honor to beat Ross and everyone else in the conference,” York said after winning his fourth race of the season. “I was just trying to stay with him the whole time. We were running together for a long time. I think I made a move at the two-mile mark, then picked up the pace and outlasted him to the finish.”
York ó who moved from Ontario, Canada about eight years ago ó saved his best for last. His last-mile split time was a blistering 5:07. Oden’s was 5:15.
“He was just cooking at the end,” Oden said. “We were side-by-side until we rounded this corner just after two miles. He was inside on the left. I was outside on the right. It’s the sharpest turn on the whole course. He passed me there and just took off.”
East, which also won conference titles in 1993 and 1995, countered with a package deal. Sophomore Cole Honeycutt placed third for the Mustangs in 16:53.0. Teammates Eli Walton (5th in 17:42.9), Brad Oden (6th in 17:43.6) and Preston Dixon (11th in 18:12.3) also scored, while Hunter Arey (12th in 18:16.1) and Mark Almeida (13th in 18:16.8) gave East seven runners on the all-conference team.
“We’ve been running that way all year,” said Roseman. “We had five in the top nine at the county meet. And that fifth runner is always the key.”
Apparently, packing them in has been the modusoperandi throughout the season.
“We’re not hurting on our fifth, sixth and seventh runners,” Roseman noted. “They’re all strong. Any of them can help us big time.”
No one helped more than Oden, who has quietly paced the Mustangs. He was second in the Oct. 7 county meet to Salisbury’s Nick Summers and crossed behind York in the last week’s United Way Inviational, where York ran an eye-popping 16:10.
“Ross ran good, but Michael was great,” said Roseman. “You’re not gonna beat a guy who runs 16:10.”
Roseman recalled the day he recruited Oden out of a class some three years ago.
“As a freshman he told me, ‘I don’t do distance.’ But for somebody who doesn’t do distance, Ross has done pretty darn good. I take no credit for what he’s done. Ross is a natural.”
So are the Mustangs.
“It’s an up and a down for me,” Oden concluded. “I lost, but the team won.”
NOTES: By winning East has qualified for the 3A Midwest Regional championship meet scheduled Oct. 31 at Charlotte’s McAlpine Park. The four teams there advance to the state meet. … West Rowan’s Dillon Kluttz finished fourth in 17:38.5, helping the Falcons (113) place third in the team standings. Carson (117) was fourth, led by senior Nick Golden (18th in 18:55.2) and freshman Chase Johnson (19th in 18:55.8).