Prep cross country: South’s York on fast track
By Bret Strelow
LANDIS ó South Rowan cross country standout Michael York lost a late lead at the county meet but learned a valuable lesson.
York positioned himself at the front of the pack and wound up with a fourth-place finish after being outkicked by Salisbury’s Nick Summers, East Rowan’s Ross Oden and Salisbury’s Philip Tonseth.
York competed in the prestigious United Way Invitational at Newton’s Southside Park a week later. He made his push after reaching the two-mile mark of the 3.1-mile event, passed leader Larry Scaggs of A.L. Brown and outsprinted T.C. Roberson’s Ben Duval over the last one-tenth of a mile.
York took first in the field of 169 runners with a personal-best time of 16:10.77. He beat Duval by 0.85 seconds.
“We’re focusing on teaching him how to race,” South coach Bob Marchinko said. “The county meet he set the pace and everybody kind of fed off him and beat him at the end.
“We taught him to stay back a little early and wait later in the race instead of letting everybody else drag off him.”
York is expected to contend for the individual title Saturday in the 3A Midwest Regional at Charlotte’s McAlpine Park. Scaggs, Oden and Marvin Ridge’s Chris Colo are also among the favorites.
York qualified for the 3A state meet last year as a sophomore and has taken more steps forward as a junior. A victory last week at the NPC championship meet ó he crossed the finish line nine seconds ahead of Oden ó followed the high-profile win on a rainy afternoon in Newton.
“We always run good in the rain,” York said. “I felt good that day, felt good all week at practice, went out and worked hard.
“It felt great to be able to win an invitational as big as the United Way is.”
York started running competitively as a seventh-grader at Corriher-Lipe Middle School.
His father is from West Virginia, and his mother is Canadian. York grew up in Kingston, Ontario, about 244 kilometers (or 151 miles) from Toronto. With his paternal grandparents living in Albemarle, York and his family moved to North Carolina when he was 8.
York played hockey for a few years as a youngster and says he supports NHL teams that reside north of the border. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who have one win in nine games, rank last in the league with three points.
“I pull for any Canadian team,” York said. “I usually pull for Toronto, but it’s rough right now.”
York developed an interest in wrestling and football once he moved to the United States. He routinely outran his Corriher-Lipe wrestling teammates, and they encouraged him to go out for the track team.
The first meet was held at East Rowan, and York finished third in the 1,600 meters. Dalton Johnson, currently a South cross country teammate of York’s, won the race.
“I ran 5:39 for the mile my first meet ever, and it’s just stuck since,” York said.
York was a freshman at South when Philip Tilley and Blake Overcash placed in the top 20 of the state meet.
York earned a spot in the state meet last year by finishing seventh in the 3A West Regional, and he placed 61st in Clemmons.
Marchinko said Tilley, Overcash and York are the only male state qualifiers in the 30-year history of South cross country.
“Michael’s very self-driven, and that’s really his strongest attribute,” Marchinko said. “He wants to be good and is willing to do what it takes to be good. If I tell him to go out and run 12 miles, he won’t bat an eye or question it. He’ll go out and do 12 miles.”