COLUMBIA —The beat goes on for Brent Demarest and the Porter-Gaud boys cross country team.
Demarest easily secured his third straight individual SCISA Class AAA championship while leading the Cyclones to their third consecutive team title on Saturday at Hammond School.
Pinewood Prep did not defend its girls title but seventh-grader Maryah Nasir kept the Panthers in the headlines with an individual run to glory.
“The guys have developed a great understanding of what it takes to be successful in this sport,” said Porter-Gaud coach Hugh Knight. “They know how to run in packs, how to surge mid-race to break it open, how to be strong in the last mile and when to time their kicks. They’ve learned all these things through experience.”
Demarest blew away the field again, winning over teammate Cameron Kane by whopping 71 seconds. The only negative was the time – 15 minutes, 40.27 seconds – fell decidedly short of the sub-15-minute race he hoped to run.
But the last-minutes change in venue from the usual state course at Heathwood Hall to neighboring Hammond because of traffic issues around the South Carolina vs. Tennessee football game at nearby Williams Brice Stadium had a major impact on the clock bottom line.
“I not that familiar with this course, and its slower than the one at Heathwood,” said Demarest. “But I’m very happy with my performance and the way the team got after it again.”
Knight said the switch to Hammond doomed Demarest’s quest to break 15 minutes.
“If we’d have known the meet was going to be changed, we’d have raced here to get ready,” said the Cyclones coach. “All the training and planning was geared to Heathwood, but this is a course that is not going to produce great times. Still, Brent ran a great race. In cross country, it’s not necessarily about times, but about performances. Brent and the entire team really performed today.”
All five Porter-Gaud scoring runners earned all-state recognition for top 10 finishes. Brendan Ward (4th, 17:45.51), Alex Dahlstrom (5th, 17:40.93) and Bolton Sanford (8th, 17:48.11) joined Demarest and Kane (16:51.39) on the awards stand.
It’s been a rewarding and busy fall for Demarest, who earned four gold medals a few weeks ago at the SCISA state swim finals.
Nasir, who was sixth last season, beat defending champion Brooke Grice by following her pre-race plan.
“A ran against her earlier in the season and went out too fast and got caught at the end,” she explained. “This time I want to hang with the leaders and try to make the move in the final mile and that’s how it worked out.”
Nasir had a winning time of 19:10.68. Teammates Katie Black (5th, 19:48.51) and Isabelle Greenstreet (7th, 20:12.86) also earned all-state honors. The Panthers finished third in the team standings behind top-ranked Heathwood Hall and Hammond.
Pinewood’s Peter Ruby (6th, 17:45.51) and Jin Kim (9th, 17:50.96) and Ashley Hall’s Morgan Lee (6th, 19:57.72) were the other Lowcountry runners to rate all-state recognition.
Team scores: Porter-Gaud 20, Pinewood Prep 88, Hammond 112, Florence Christian 122, Hilton Head Prep 162, Heathwood Hall 173, Cardinal Newman 191, Wilson Hall 192, Northwood Academy 219, Ben Lippen 223, Laurence Manning 289, Augusta Christian 303, Orangeburg Prep 325.
Top 10 individuals: 1. Brent Demarest (Porter-Gaud) 15:40.27; 2. Cameron Kane (Porter-Gaud) 16:51.39; 3. Stephen Ridley (Heathwood Hall) 17:15.65; 4. Brendan Ward (Porter-Gaud) 17:23.75; 5. Alex Dahlstrom (Porter-Gaud) 17:40.93; 6. Peter Ruby (Pinewood Prep) 17:45.51; 7. Bristow Richards (Hammond) 17:47.51; 8. Bolton Sanford (Porter-Gaud) 17:48.11; 9. Jin Kim (Pinewood Prep) 17:50.96); 10. Hudson Jepertinger (Florence Christian) 17:52.42).
Team scores: Heathwood Hall 47, Hammond 60, Pinewood Prep 66, Ashley Hall 102, Laurence Manning 150, Cardinal Newman 155, Wilson Hall 160, Porter-Gaud 228, Hilton Head Prep 230, Ben Lippen 255, Augusta Christian 285.
Top 10 Individuals: 1. Maryah Nasir (Pinewood Prep) 19:10.68; 2. Brooke Grice (Heathwood Hall) 19:12.38; 3. Sydney Ellen (Heathwood Hall) 19:14.60; 4. Catherine Herring (Hammond) 19:37.38; 5. Katie Black (Pinewood Prep) 19:48.51; 6. Morgan Lee (Ashley Hall) 19:57.72; 7. Isabelle Greenstreet (Pinewood Prep) 20:12.86; 8. Carolina Gasser (Cardinal Newman 20:16.56; 9. Ella Bristow (Hammond) 20:16.77; 10. Julia Ladson (Wilson Hall) 20:27.60.