PISGAH — Rhlyee Bell raced toward the finish line, her coach and Pisgah fans shouting encouragement to her as Section’s Jennifer Vega worked hard behind her to catch her.
Bell would not be denied however, crossing the finish line in time to win the Jackson County girls cross country championship race.
Bell’s effort led Pisgah to a team championship as well, and the PHS boys went on to make it another Pisgah county title sweep on Thursday at the cross country trail near CampToKnowHim in Pisgah.
It was the seventh consecutive county championship for the PHS girls and boys teams.
“I’m glad we were able to keep our county win streak alive,” said Pisgah head coach Gus Hembree, whose teams have won the Jackson County Cross Country Meet championships every season since the meet began in 2013. “It was good to see some strong performances by our county schools. Every year the county meet gets more and more competitive.”
Section was the girls 5K race runner-up while Skyline was third and North Jackson fourth.
Bell won the race with a time of 24:22, eight seconds in front of Section’s Vega (24:30).
“Rhylee Bell has worked hard to reach her goal of winning the girls meet,” Hembree said. “Jennifer Vega from Section is a strong runner and she knew she would have to have great focus and effort to finish in front.”
Pisgah runners dominated the Jackson County standings Top 10 finishers. Kaylea Griffis finished third (25:51) while teammates Kaylynn Morgan was fourth (26:06), Serenity Olinger fifth (26:14), Lauren Peek sixth (26:33), Ally Darwin seventh (26:36) and Jazimine Wilson eighth (26:51). North Jackson’s Delana Pierce (27:37.26) and Emily Gilley (27:37.80) rounded out the Top-10. Pisgah’s Lauren Allbritton placed 11th (29:06) while Section’s Cindel Myers was 12th (29:13), Pisgah’s Kimberly Miller 13th (29:47), Section’s Morgan Armstrong 14th (30:15), Pisgah’s Sarah Grace Gamble 15th (30:27) and Skyline’s Olivia Treece 16th (30:45) while Pisgah’s Amanda Davidson (30:49), Korin Brock (31:04), Madison Phillips (31:38) and Addison Goff (31:54) finished 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th respectively.
Meanwhile, Pisgah edged North Sand Mountain by 13 points to win the varsity boys county championship. Skyline followed in third place while North Jackson was fourth.
Jayden Culpepper became NSM’s first individual Jackson County championship with a winning time of 19:40. He held off Pisgah’s Tanner Baine (19:48) to win.
“It was good to see Jaden and Tanner battle it out,” Hembree said. “It was a competitive race between them.”
NSM’s Lane Gamble finished third (19:54) while Pisgah’s Zach Cornelison was fourth (20:16), NSM’s Josue Luna fifth (20:25), Pisgah’s Tristan Little sixth (20:34), North Jackson’s Abraham Castro seventh (20:54) and Pisgah’s Trey Barrentine (21:15), Austin Wilson (21:47) and Jake Smith (21:49.27) eighth, ninth and 10th respectively. Skyline’s Trever Saint was 11th (21:49.93) while Pisgah’s Mason Overdear was 12th (21:53), Skyline’s Nathan Olinger 13th (21:59), NSM’s Jorge Luna 14th (22:14), North Jackson’s Daniel Feigel 15th (22:27), Skyline’s J.T. Hastings 16th (22:31), Section’s Ethan Lemieux 17th (23:01), NSM’s Jonah Slay 18th (23:02), Pisgah’s Bob Johnson 19th (23:03) and Skyline’s Bryant Kennamer 20th (23:09).