Cross country runners of the year: Porter-Gaud's Brent Demarest, Pinewood's Maryah Nasir
Porter-Gaud cross country runner Brent Demarest can enjoy a little rest and relaxation during the holiday season.
The senior recently completed his swimming and cross country seasons, competing in his final event last weekend. Demarest was in San Diego for the prestigious Foot Locker cross country nationals, where he finished 28th with a time of 15 minutes, 53 seconds
Demarest won his fourth straight SCISA state title this fall with a time of 14.46, only the third runner in South Carolina to break the 15-minute barrier at a state championship.
Demarest is The Post and Courier's high school cross country male runner of the year. Pinewood Prep's Maryah Nasir, an eighth-grader who finished second in the SCISA state championship, is the female runner of the year.
Demarest, who heads up the All-Lowcountry cross country teams, said the San Diego event was worth the extra work since his state high school season ended weeks ago.
"It's pretty awesome," said Demarest, who also was crowned a state champ at the SCISA state swimming meet. "It's a totally different experience. You get the opportunity to push yourself to the limits because you are going up against the best in the nation."
Demarest also competes in the 1,600- and ,3200-meter runs in track and field and will be the prohibitive favorite in both events at the state meet in May. After he graduates, he will attend the University of Virginia where he will run both cross country and track.
Nasir's future could be just as bright if she continues to work hard and remains healthy. She won the SCISA cross country state title as a seventh-grader and finished second this fall.
"It is a great accomplishment that I have done well against the competition," Nasir said. "I am doing well, but I know there's work to be done."
Her coach, Kelly Hazel, says Nasir has all the tools to be great.
"Like all super talents, she will be as good as she wants to be," Hazel said. "Her drive will determine her destiny as far as her running. Some young talented runners hit or miss the big times. Or they hit one race with a spectacular time. This past year, Maryah was very consistent with her racing, running mid-18s for most races. This fact alone sets her apart."
Nasir heads up the girls All-Lowcountry team, which includes Abby Bozarth, Summerville; Alexandra Zimmer, Stratford; Katie Black, Pinewood Prep; Rosa Marie Compton, Wando; Meghan Kuhn, Pinewood Prep; Michele Boykin, Bishop England; and Morgan Lee, Ashley Hall.
The boys team includes Keith Bartleson, James Island; Andrew Gawryluk, Wando; Jackson Ellenburg, Ashley Ridge; Christian Widenhouse, Bishop England; Mason Hazel, Pinewood Prep; Spencer Jacob, Wando; and Logan Veatch, Wando.
Brian Johnson, who led the Academic Magnet boys to the High School League's Class AA state title, is the coach of the year.