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HILLSVILLE –– With two new teams competing in the Mountain Empire District cross country championships this year, it would be understandable for those less familiar with it to become confused by the Southwest Virginia Training Center course.
All they had to do was follow the Cockerham kid.
Galax senior Travis Cockerham found himself in a familiar position – leading the way – and hustled to a third straight MED championship Wednesday. Cockerham joined the Maroon Tide’s Ashley Jordan atop the podium as Galax swept the team and individual titles.
Cockerham held off a strong effort by Bland County’s Josh Goodman to win the boys’ race in a time of 16 minutes, 30 seconds. Goodman followed 10 seconds back, leading the Bears to a runner-up finish in the team standings.
Grayson County’s Tyler Pauley (17:38), and the Maroon Tide’s Issac Jordan (17:42) and Dustin Matthews (17:50) rounded out the top five.
Places six through 10 were filled by Abdul Shattory of Bland (17:58), Galax’s Chandler Quesenberry (18:06), Grayson’s Adam Wyatt (18:10) and the Tide’s Trevor Quesenberry (18:15) and Justin Ayers (18:33). The top 10 finishers earned all-district recognition.
Galax’s Kevin Loftin placed 13th in 19:03 and Zack Blassingame of Grayson was 15th in 19:56.
The Maroon Tide breezed to its 21st team title in the program’s 23 years of existence, winning its fifth straight championship with 23 team points. Bland County was second with 62, followed by Grayson County (80), first-year program Narrows (86) and MED newcomer Graham (112).
Ashley Jordan, a freshman and the reigning district middle school champ, continued what has been a promising start to her varsity career, winning the girls’ individual title by 29 seconds with a time of 21:08. Galax runners filled five of the first seven positions as Lindsey Ayers took second (21:37) followed by Megan Boyles in fourth (22:40), Jennifer Laws in fifth (23:00) and Alexandra Moreno in seventh (23:20).
Defending champion Carley Smith of Grayson County placed third in 22:00 and teammate Lakyn Parks was sixth in 23:13.
The Blue Devils’ Kayleigh Cummings (23:55) and Olivia Wyatt (24:07) and Galax’s Keely Dezern (24:12) rounded out the top 10 and earned all-MED status.
Tenth through 15th places were filled by Hayley Reavis and Melody Mallison of Grayson, Galax’s Kelsey Williams, Grayson’s Natalie Ruiz and Sierra Ogden of Narrows.
The only two schools fielding complete teams, Galax took the girls’ team championship with 19 points to Grayson’s 37. It was the Maroon Tide’s 12th team title and its fourth in five years.
“Both teams showed great depth today,” said Galax coach Tony Quesenberry. “We had pretty solid performances out of both squads today. They were completely focused on repeating as MED champions. We’ll need that same type of focus next week for us to finish well at regionals.”
Galax will host the Region C meet Wednesday at the SWVTC.
Alix Gennette of Galax was the boys’ middle school champion, traversing the 2-mile course in 12:10. He was followed in the top five by Ian Niday (Bland), Matthew Horton (Galax), Jacob Cross (Bland) and Ethan Jones (Galax).
Grayson County’s Emma Wyatt took home the girls’ middle school championship with a time of 13:07. Teammate Mary Beth Cunningham placed second and was trailed by Savannah Stoneman (Galax), McKensey Stoneman (Galax) and Megan Halsey (Grayson).