LUMBERTON — For the second straight race, Tony Strickland and Aaron Aycock were the first two Scotland cross country runners to reach the finish line.
This time, there wasn’t anyone ahead of them.
Strickland finished in first place with a time of 19:32 and Aycock logged a second-place finish as Scotland’s boys cross country team had five runners – Strickland, Aycock, Jackson Sellers, Dean Jennings and Cooper Sutherland – finish in the top eight on Tuesday during a meet against Purnell Swett, Richmond and Seventy First at Luther Britt Park in Lumberton.
Strickland and Aycock had finished in 12th and 13th place, respectively, out of 290 competitors on Saturday at South View’s Jungle Run.
Scotland’s Madison Williams finished first in the girls division, building on her success early in the season after crossing the finish line in 25th place out of 227 runners at the Jungle Run.
“We were very close to where I wanted them today,” Scotland coach Greg Wrape said. “A couple guys were a little off on the times we had set for them, but overall they did a good job.”
Wrape said Strickland, a junior, and Aycock, a freshman, have been helping each other improve early in the season.
“They’re working hard,” Wrape said. “They push each other and challenge each other. One thing that I think is pushing them to be better is having each other to run with at practice.”
Strickland said he’s enjoyed seeing Aycock develop early in his high school career.
“I really think he’s going to be a good runner,” Strickland said. “I think the season is going to go well with him up there with me running.”
“I think if we continue working hard in practice and running our races the right way, we can definitely contend later on in the season,” said Aycock, who finished with a time of 19:53 on Tuesday.
For Williams, a sophomore who has been the top performer out of the five athletes on the women’s team, one of the challenges she faces this season involves taking a leadership role and motivating her teammates to improve.
Williams’ teammates include three other sophomores and one freshman.
“I just have to push myself, and then I have to get those girls up to what I can do throughout the year,” Williams said. “Try to push them to do their best.”
Williams said she wants to break the 20-minute mark this season, but she’s also working on a long-term goal.
“By the end of my senior year, I want to catch Carmen Alder from Pinecrest,” Williams said.
Alder finished in eight place at the 4-A state championship meet last year and finished in first place at the Midwest 4-A Regional.
The Fighting Scots have a combined 19 athletes on the boys and girls teams, and only five of them are upperclassmen. Despite having a young roster this year, Wrape said the Scots have the potential to make improvements as the season progresses.
“We’re a young team, so we’re learning every day,” Wrape said. “Every meet, every training session, we’re learning.”
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.