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Prep cross country: Salisbury girls finish fourth

By David Shaw
dshaw@salisburypost.com
CLEMMONS ó There’s nothing like a case of prerace jitters to bring out the best in a team ó even if the worst-stricken participant happens to be the coach.
But enough about first-year Salisbury girls cross-country coach Megan Robinson, whose Hornets earned a fourth-place finish in the 2A state championship meet at Tanglewood Park on Saturday.
“My stomach was turning so bad,” Robinson said after SHS totaled 140 points and finished behind winner Carrboro (45), Croatan (88) and North Lincoln (125). “I guess I live vicariously through them, and I got really nervous. The girls? They’ve been nervous for the past 24 hours. Me, double that.”
Despite all that Salisbury ó eighth in the state last year under former coach Trella McLean ó had three top 20 finishers and surpassed most expectations.
“I wasn’t expecting fourth,” Robinson said. “That was good with me. I was hoping top 10, so top five is all right.”
All right indeed. The Hornets were paced by junior Emily Shields, who navigated the unforgiving 5K course in 20:47.89, good for 11th place. Teammate Karen Presnell, who missed last week’s Midwest Regional to attend a soccer tournament, was 12th in 20:51.31. Katherine Shields was 20th, crossing in 21:25.41.
“I was hoping to finish higher so I’d get to go up on the stage,” Emily Shields said. “But still, I’m happy with 11th. I feel like I went as hard as I could. I didn’t leave anything behind.”
That’s exactly what she did while ascending the course’s biggest hill midway through the race.
“Yeah, I thought that hill in the woods would hurt me, but it didn’t,” she said. “I was able to pass people on that hill.”
Her twin sister wasn’t so fortunate.
“The season’s been great. I’m right where I wanted to be,” Katherine Shields said. “But it seems like I’ve gone downhill this past week. My legs got heavy, and I’ve been running tired. It’s almost like I peaked at the regionals. Next year I’ll have to fix that.”
Presnell had a pretty routine trip around the course.
“I wasn’t really running for myself,” she said. “But I figured the faster I went, the better it would be for the team. So I just ran my race, made passes when they were there and did what I could do.”
Salisbury also received a strong finish from sophomore Doreen Richardson (45th in 23:24.59) and junior Jenna Bryan (84th in 23:48.60). Other SHS finishers included juniors Margaret Kaufmann (115th in 25:40.29) and Taylor Slate (119th in 26:23.16).
Robinson, an ex-jayvee boys soccer coach, indicated she’ll be back next season.
“We all expected to do a little better timewise,” Katherine Shields said. “But no one’s graduating. We’ll all come back strong next year.”
That’s enticing to all Salisbury supporters. Robinson has passed the autumn with one eye fixed on the task at hand and the other trained on 2010.
“It’s gonna be great,” she said with a burst of enthusiasm. “I guess that’s why we’re all gearing up for next year. This year was wonderful, but next year is wide open.”
n
West Rowan’s Leslie Pence and South Rowan’s Emily Kinney participated as individuals in the 3A competition. Pence caused a false start when she bumped into another runner and fell, then finished 73rd in 22:04.59. Kinney was 118th in 24:27.40.

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