Boys -- Back-to-Back Region Titles
Back at The Oasis, Clinton Cross-country looks to extend championship season - STATE MEET: Clinton Boys place 14th; Clinton Girls place 16th in statewide competition.
Clinton Cross-country took a little edge into Saturday’s Upper State Qualifier, running on a course - The Oasis at Connie Maxwell in Greenwood - that the runners had seen twice before.
They set personal records and team records at The Oasis and now were competing as 7-man and 7-woman teams to make it into the Top 10, Men and Top 11, Women going on to State.
The Red Devil Men came into the qualifier as back-to-back Region 3-AAA Champions. Clinton also won the title in 2012. “I don’t know about Team of the Decade,” Coach Lee Atkinson said, “but we have had a lot of success. We have built on the program that Col. Joel Rexford started in the 1990s. We run like he would want his runners to run, with a lot of mental toughness.
“When people think about Clinton, we hope they think about Clinton Cross-country.”
The Red Devils’ four seniors - Nick Perkins, Jacob Hawkins, David Wilkie and Zac Bagwell - said while there is constant competition, any one of the top Clinton runners can be “on” at any given race. They've been running CHS Cross-country since the 7th and 8th grades. You hear a lot about “hitting the wall” in distance running, but Atkinson said, “I honestly don’t think they have any walls any more. They’re mentally tough. I’ve never seen a collection of kids with this much mental toughness. It doesn’t matter what workout we give them, they’re going to do it.”
The cross-country season is May to November, and teams had to be cautious through the summer and early fall because of constant temperatures in the 90s. Hydration and how much water to consume, plus cutting down on greasy foods, are something ever runner has to learn - sometimes the hard way. Young runners have to learn how to breathe, Atkinson said, and even veteran runners have to manage rest while running, and not losing time. “We like to keep our Top 7 together until the 2-miles mark,” the coach said, “then start passing as many runners as we can.”
In the Upper State Qualifier, major men’s competition was expected from Fairfield-Central, Indian Land, Catawba Ridge, Pendleton and Powdersville.
In the 2019 Region Champion won by Clinton Men’s Cross-country, the team earned 35 points, and its All-Region runners are: Nick Perkins, 3rd, 18:30; Zac Bagwell, 6th, 18:42; David Wilkie, 7th, 18:44; Keenan Dominick, 9th, 18:54; and William Reid, 10th, 18:58.
Rounding out the Clinton Top 7 runners - Daniel Wyatt 11th, 19:01 PR (personal record); and James Anderson 12th, 19:05. Other PRs: Gaige McWatters, 21:02; Jabaro Dillard, 23:17; Chris Fortman, 23:33; Caleb Roger, 26:21; Elliott King 27:19. In Men’s Region 3 - Clinton 1st; Woodruff 2nd, 59; Emerald 3rd, 63; Mid-Carolina 4th, 75.
The Clinton women placed 3rd, 56 points; All-Region: Elizabeth Reid, 4th. That placement put them, also, in Saturday’s Upper State Qualifier, 7-woman team, with a Top 11 finish going to State (which will be at the Carolina Cup course in Camden).
In the County Meet (Laurens High and Laurens Academy) results were: Men: Clinton 1st, 20 points; Laurens 2nd, 43 points. Finishing in 2nd place, Clinton’s James Anderson at 18:39. Women: Clinton 1st, 26 points; Laurens 2nd, 31 points. Finishing in 2nd place, Clinton’s Dorothy Trent at 22:09.
These were the 2018 results:
Region - Clinton Men placed 1st with 27 points. The Red Devils were led by Eric Newton who was Region Champion, at 17:47. Also earning All-Region honors:
Nick Perkins, 5th, 18:54;
Billy Hogarth, 6th, 18:56;
Zac Bagwell, 7th, 19:00.
Just missing All-Region honors:
Keenan Dominick, 12th, 19:24;
David Wilkie, 13th, 19:29.
The CHS Women placed 5th. In the County Championship, the Women won 1st place, 30 points; Laurens second with 43 points. Clinton Senior Paige Trent won the Individual Championship (22:41).
Clinton Men, County Champions - 1st place, 22 points; Laurens was 2nd. Evan Prince (16:59) paced everyone by winning the individual title. Other All-County runners:
2nd, Senior Eric Newton, Clinton, 17:36;
3rd, Zac Bagwell, Clinton, 18:28;
4th, Nick Perkins, Clinton, 18:40;
5th, Senior Billy Hogarth, Clinton, 18:41.
For the past few years, Clinton Cross-country has conducted a food drive for The Open Door and has participated with Laurens Cross-country in a ball run (6 miles) between the two towns preparing for the season-opening varsity football game. They’re always looking for run challenges.
Clinton prepared for the Region-winning 2018 season by “Running to Alaska.” Atkinson said, “We’ve got to get a lot of miles on our legs before we start working out.”
This past summer, the Clinton Cross-country Teams’ workout was “Running Around Clinton.”
They identified other Clinton towns in the U.S., most east of the Mississippi River, calculating the distance there and back, and having runners log those miles.
They accomplished their goal.
They logged 4,300 miles-run.
Based Saturday’s qualifying, and what they want their performance to be at State this Saturday, the Red Devil competitors’ aim is to do a trophy-run back to “their Clin-non” - Clinton, South Carolina.