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Galax boys, girls seventh in finale

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Cockerham and Smith hustled their way to top-10 finishes at the state cross country meet.

By The Gazette

 THE PLAINS –– Top-10 finishes for a pair of individuals and seventh-place showings for both Galax’s teams punctuated a year full of highlights for Twin County cross country runners as the season drew to a close with the VHSL championships at the Great Meadow course near Manassas on Nov. 13.

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Galax’s Travis Cockerham brought home an eighth-place finish in the boys’ race and Grayson County’s Carley Smith finished 10th in the girls’ race, with the Maroon Tide placing seventh in both the boys’ and girls’ team standings.

“Coach [Mary Jane] Ballard and I are extremely pleased with the performances of our kids under the pressure of the state championships,” Maroon Tide coach Tony Quesenberry said. “Both teams stepped up and performed at their highest level of the season and seemed to peak very well this year at district, regions and state.”

Cockerham and Smith, both juniors, earned all-state honors for the second year in a row. Cockerham shaved more than 30 seconds off his time from a year ago and finished in eighth place in a field of 125 boys, posting a time of 16 minutes, 47 seconds as places five through nine crossed within five seconds of one another.

Jon Ulrich of Lebanon edged Mischa Turner of Northumberland at the finish for the individual championship, both runners posting times of 16:22.

Lebanon runners took two of the top three spots and the Pioneers finished second in the team standings behind Altavista. Radford, Mathews, George Mason, Central of Woodstock, Galax, Floyd County, Clarke County and John Battle rounded out the top 10.

Following Cockerham for the Maroon Tide were Justin Ayers (17:53), Trevor Quesenberry (18:12), Eddie Hanks (18:19), Dyllan Taylor (18:27), Chandler Quesenberry (19:08) and Kevin Loftin (19:10). Ayers, Quesenberry and Taylor all recorded personal best times.

Tyler Pauley of Grayson County posted a time of 18:19 just three months after starting the season as a football player,

Galax placed among the top 10 boys team for the 18th time in 18 state appearances. The Tide’s top 10 runners on the boys’ team will all return in 2011.

Smith cut 25 seconds off her 10th-place effort from a year ago to post a time of 20:25. Katlyn Ayers of Strasburg topped George Mason’s Julia Estrada for the individual championship with a winning time of 19:08.

The Maroon Tide girls will have 11 of 12 runners back, losing Marleigh Durham, who rebounded from an early-season injury to compete in her fourth state championships. Durham was third-fastest with a time of 22:26 among Galax runners, who were paced by a pair of freshmen, Megan Boyles (39th, 21:50) and Lindsey Ayers (47th, 22:01). Kelsey Williams (23:00), Jennifer Laws (23:13), Alexandra Moreno (24:07) and Susan Davis (24:15) rounded out Galax’s top seven.

George Mason had three of the top six scoring individuals and won the team championship with 35 points to Radford’s 94. They were trailed in the top 10 by Strasburg, Mathews, Parry McCluer, Page County, Galax, Clarke County, Middlesex and PH-Glade Spring.