The Academic Magnet boys’ cross country team has gone wire-to-wire, holding down the top spot in the Class AA state coaches’ poll for the entire season.
State Cross Country Schedule
State Cross Country Meet
At Sandhills Research Center, Columbia
Admission: $5 per car
9 a.m.: Class A Girls
9:30 a.m.: Class A Boys
10 a.m.: Class AA Girls
10:30 a.m.: Class AA Boys
11 a.m.: Presentation of Awards
11:30 a.m.: Class AAA Girls
Noon: Class AAA Boys
12:30 p.m.: Class AAAA Girls
1p.m.: Class AAAA Boys
1:30 p.m.: Presentation of Awards
Now comes the tricky part. The Raptors must exhibit the right amount of aggressiveness, endurance and speed to finish the season with a state title on Saturday.
Second-year Academic Magnet coach Brian Johnson knows that can be a tough task. Last year, the Raptors seemed poised to make a run at the title when they competed in the 5K run at the Sandhills Research Center in Columbia. But they came up short, dropping a 76-92 decision to Pendleton.
“We’re going out and running our own race,” Johnson said. “We’re not going out there like we did last year when we went out too hard and ran too aggressively. We paid for it later in the race. We would have won if it had been 2½ kilometers. But it’s a 5K race.”
The Raptors will face a stiff challenge from Waccamaw, Bishop England and Pendleton for the boys’ title. Bishop England, No. 3 in the state, will go after its fourth state title since 2008. The Bishops feature Christian Widenhouse, who ran a national elite time of 16:15.36 at the Lower State meet.
The Raptors’ top two runners are sophomore all-state runner Hayden DiBona and junior Trace Hall, who is running cross country for the first time. Both athletes were members of Academic Magnet’s state champion swimming team.
The cross country team draws from athletes who also play soccer and lacrosse at the school.
“We recruit the athletes who play in the spring,” Johnson said. “It helps them with their cardiovascular.”
The Bishop England girls enter Saturday’s competition with the No. 1 ranking in Class AA. Pendleton and Landrum should push the Bishops, who are seeking their fourth state title since 2000.
The Bishops’ top runners are Michele Boykin, who has been offered by The Citadel, Elizabeth DiBona and JoJo Tompkins. DiBona is the cousin of Academic Magnet’s Hayden DiBona.
The James Island girls hold down the No. 1 ranking in Class AAA and are seeking their second straight state title. The Trojans will face stiff competition from Hilton Head.
Mary Stewart Wilson is the Trojans’ top runner. She is ranked the No. 7 female runner in the state.
In Class AAAA, the Wando girls and Summerville are bidding to finish in the top five. The Wando boys enter Saturday’s meet No. 3 in the state, while Ashley Ridge is No. 9.