Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 26, 2013

SALISBURY — West Rowan’s Rebecca Parker has navigated her way to the front of the line at the county cross country championship three straight years now. Between conference meets and county championships, she’s ran the back paths of Dan Nicholas Park with speed and precision several times since her freshman year.
Parker’s win Wednesday was no surprise but the fact that she got lost early in the run was. A wrong turn early in the race put her a few feet behind Salisbury’s Susannah Dixon, who immediately alerted Parker of her mistake.
“All of a sudden, I just hear ‘Rebecca, No!’” Parker said. “It was the same layout. I was just out of it and focused on the finish.”
The West Rowan junior rejoined the tracks and finished the 3.2-mile course in 20:04, beating runner up Dixon by 50 seconds. Parker gained a sizable lead by the time she reached crowd standing along the lake and cruised. It was an improvement from the pre-county meet when she finished in 20:44. The cool brisk day may have helped.
“I was going to break 20, but I’m okay with that,” Parker said.
East Rowan won the girls meet with five finishers in the top 10. East sophomore Faith Blume had the best time for the Mustangs with a 21:12, finishing fourth.
“I’m really excited to get fourth place as a sophomore,” Blume said. “It was really rewarding.”
Blume bounced between second and fourth place during the race but never lower. Tori Gaul was fifth in 21:29. Haley Lyerly followed at 22:20 and Karlie Neigal placed eighth in 22:47. Anna Louise Alexander (10th, 23:35), Sydney Feriante (12th, 23:32) and Alison Smith (13th, 23:34) also had good finishes for East.
“This is just a step in the process for this year,” East coach Jon Heidrick said. “These girls are good but they have to get better. The county’s tough but the [South Piedmont] conference is real tough.”
West placed second as a team with 56 points. Josie Heglar placed third in 20:59.
Carson got top-10 finishes from Katie Nichols (seventh, 22:46) and Jordan Couch (ninth, 23:21).
The Mustangs made up half of the all-county sqaud.
“It’s a solid top seven,” Heidrick said. “Number four through seven are very tight and if we can keep that going, that should mean big things down the road.”
North Rowan’s Ashlyn Mills had her team’s best run in 23:36 for 11th place. Kasey Newton had South Rowan’s quickest run in 25:42.