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Area runners headed to state

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Grayson County's girls' team and Galax's boys placed third in the Region C cross country meet.

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 DALEVILLE -- Galax and Grayson County will both be well-represented at the Group A cross country championships after posting strong finishes at the Region C meet last Wednesday at Greenfield Recreation Park.

Galax’s boys and Grayson County’s girls will each advance to the state meet as a team after finishing third in their respective races. Despite losing five of its top seven runners from a year ago, the Maroon Tide boys will make the trip to state for the 17th time in the past 21 years, led by all-region performances by Travis Cockerham and Kevin Loftin. Despite windy conditions on a very hilly course, six of Galax’s seven boys improved their times anywhere from a minute, 15 seconds to 2:15 over times posted on the same course in September. “The boys’ team is definitely peaking at the right time, and hopefully next week they can carry the momentum for a strong team finish at state,” said Tide coach Tony Quesenberry. Floyd County (37 points) and Radford (54) took the top two team positions, followed by Galax (102), which finished third by outrunning Auburn (114) for the first time this season. The top four teams advance to the Group A meet. “Auburn was a team we hadn’t beat all year until [regionals], and it was exciting for our kids to move past them to secure a spot for the state meet,” Quesenberry said. Cockerham took fifth individually by edging Bath County’s Matt Persinger by three-tenths of a second, finishing in 18:31.05. Floyd County’s Austin Grubb was the individual champion with a time of 17:43, followed by Vijay Guruswami and Jared Miller of Radford and Floyd’s Andrew Grubb. Grayson County’s Jimmy Oliver earned a state berth by placing 11th, one second ahead of Loftin. Dyllan Taylor of Galax was 22nd overall. Grayson County placed a comfortable third in the girls’ team standings with 115 points, 28 ahead of Craig County. Radford won the team title with 35 points, followed by PH-Glade Spring with 60. Carley Smith paced the Blue Devils with her fourth-place effort, posting a time of 22:08. Crista McCray of PH was the individual champion in 21:21. Galax’s Marleigh Durham qualified for the state meet for the third time in her career, taking 10th place overall in 22:58. Grayson County’s Lakyn Parks also earned all-region honors with a 14th-place finish. Maroon Tide freshmen Sydney Barker and Jennifer Laws placed 31st and 32nd, respectively. “The future of the girls’ team looks strong with the performances of our freshmen,” Quesenberry said. “They both ran their best races of the year.” Galax finished fifth as a team, their best showing since a runner-up finish in 2001. Every Maroon Tide girl cut at least two minutes off her September time on the same course.