The Morgan County cross country team held its first home meet last week at Bill Wood Park.
The Lady Dogs’ team dominated the Morgan County Invitational as they placed first overall with an average 5K time of 25:24.
The Morgan County girls’ cross country team had nine runners place among the top-25 finishers.
Lady Dogs’ head coach Erin Spinks pointed out that both the varsity and JV teams ran together since it was a home meet.
“We have a great, solid core of runners on both squads,” Spinks said. “It’s a philosophy I’ve used before.”
Spinks said that the game plan worked out in the Lady Dogs’ favor because it kept the runners together throughout the race.
“It worked well because that’s how we train,” she added. “The JV team is able to work with their pace groups and work up to where they’re striving to be. I think we used it to our advantage.”
Junior Cailyn Berikso (24:08:97) placed fourth overall and freshman Ari Paine (25:03.08) finished seventh. Elle Moss, Havily Weaver and Addison Harper all finished the competition within 30 seconds of each other and placed 10th through 12th, respectively.
Freshman Ella Garner (14th) was the final Morgan County athlete that rounded out the top-15. Freshman Isabella Cobb (17th place), Mary Ella Weldon (18th place) and Laura Torok (22nd) all had strong showings as well.
Spinks acknowledged the varsity’s top-two runners were out due to illness, so the rest of the team picked up the slack.
“I’m most impressed with the way everyone worked together,” Spinks said. “They didn’t let missing two teammates knock them down.”
Halfway through the girls’ race, Paine was having some calf issues, so the trio of Moss, Weaver and Harper made sure the freshman finished the race.
“I told those three girls that were right behind her that she needed them,” Spinks said. “So, they made it happen. It really showed that they do know how to be there for each other.”
Spinks’ favorite phrase is “iron sharpens iron” and it seemed to have worked during the race.
“That’s what I coached them to do, and they did it,” Spinks said. “At the end of the race, that’s what I talked to the team about. It’s not really about a race, but rather about being there for one another.”