Tide boys take third in Invitational

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By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

HILLSVILLE -- Manuel Echeagaray wasn't able to outrun Radford's Charles Mogen, but he did outrun every Galax runner. Ever.

Himself included.

Echeagaray placed a strong second in the Maroon Tide Invitational cross country meet Wednesday at the Southwest Virginia Training Center, breaking his own school record for a 3.1-mile course with a blistering time of 16 minutes, 18 seconds as the Maroon Tide finished in third place out of a field of 19 teams and 105 individuals.

Echeagaray was within a few meters of Mogen with a quarter-mile to go, but the Radford star's finishing kick resulted in a 12-second separation between himself and Echeagaray. Still, Echeagaray's time was a whopping 19 seconds faster than his previous school record, set at last year's Region C championships.

"Manuel has continued to work hard every week," said Galax coach Tony Quesenberry, "and the race results are beginning to show the rewards of his dedication and commitment to being the leader of our team this year."

It was the third straight year the Maroon Tide boys took home the third-place team trophy, finishing this year with 90 team points. Radford had three of the top eight individual finishers and five of the top 12, blowing away the field with 35 points. Floyd County was second with 84 points. Following Galax were Auburn (126), Tazewell (141), Patrick Henry-Glade Spring (154), Marion (159), Carroll County (207), John Battle (277), Graham (289), George Wythe (303), Eastern Montgomery (312), Grayson County (342) and Rural Retreat (371).

Trent McMillon ran a strong second for Galax, finishing in 13th position individually in 18:04, followed by teammates Josh Fridley (22nd, 18:41), Ryan Barker (26th, 19:02) and freshman Travis Cockerham (30th, 19:12).

Carroll County's Matt Coble pulled away from Floyd County's Austin Grubb in the final few meters for a fourth-place finish in 17:03, and teammate Matt Felts placed 14th in 18:07.

Jamie Oliver led Grayson County with his ninth-place finish in 17:53.

Galax's Marleigh Durham led the girls' pack early on, but John Battle sophomore Mariah Arnold pulled away at the race's midway point, winning the individual title with a time of 20:16, 18 seconds ahead of runner-up Jessica Woodie of Graham, while Savannah Fender of Marion placed third in 20:43.

Durham still posted a top-10 finish, taking the eighth spot in the 83-runner girls' field with a time of 21:43.

Radford's girls completed the sweep by placing its top five runners among the first 14 finishers, totaling 40 points. Marion was a very distant second with 125, followed by Patrick Henry (128), Auburn (133) and John Battle (137) in the top five. Rounding out the field were Giles (142), Graham (152), Floyd County (165), Galax (193), George Wythe (201) and Carroll County (208).

Jamie Webb finished 25th for the Tide in 23:12, followed by teammates Marie Orton (26:51), Sedia Bonsu (27:08) and Kassie Frazier (27:52).

Grayson County only fielded four runners, but two of them finished among the top 15. Leah Hall placed 12th in 22:22, and Carley Smith was 15th in 22:24.

Sydney Randall led Carroll County with her 34th-place finish in 23:52.

Kevin Loftin cut two minutes off his best time on the SWVTC course, placing fourth in the JV race in 19:16. Dyllan Taylor (7th), Jacob Fridley (10th), Jacob Ogle (13th), Ty Cornett (15th) and Justin Ayers also posted strong finishes for Galax.