By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON — Looking ahead is often frowned upon in some sports, but not cross country.
Runners from South Effingham and Effingham County will be in action Saturday at the Carrollton Orthopaedics, providing an opportunity to gauge the hills they’ll be facing in the state meet on Nov. 6.
“We don’t have the (sloping) terrain here so this is a chance for them to run and build up confidence,” SEHS boys and girls coach Laura Soles said. “In my early years, we were basically teaching kids how to run up and down hills the day before (the state meet). That didn’t work out too well.”
But with at least some prior knowledge of the course, runners can thrive. Last season, Mustangs’ Tyler Phillips ran about 30 seconds faster at state than during a regular-season meet in Carrollton and placed fourth overall.
Cailan Howard ran 55 seconds faster than the previous year in Carrollton and placed fifth at state last year.
Boosted by the improvement of Phillips and Howard, SEHS finished second as a team — the school’s best placement at state ever.
“Experienced runners have been through (the Carrollton hills) before and they end up telling the younger runners, this is why we’re doing the things we’re doing,” Soles said. “It’s cool to see the mentoring process.”
The Mustangs had a chance to run at Jekyll Island on Sept. 4, another opportunity to take some notes about a future course. The Region 2-AAAAAA Championships will be held at Jekyll on Oct. 28.
At the regular-season meet, the Jekyll Island Invitational, the SEHS boys placed third in a field of 15 teams. Phillips was third overall with a time of 16:45. Howard was fifth (16:50) followed by team scorers Julian Howard (17:42, 13th), Joey Burdick (18:00, 16th) and Karistopher Gadsden (18:22, 23rd).
In the girls portion of the meet, the Mustangs were fourth among 16 teams. Cheyenne Ryan (22:42, 28th) led SEHS followed by Melanie Ripley (23:16, 37th), Diya Patel (23:21, 39th), Lily McDonald (23:29, 40th) and Madison Lockhart (23:45, 42nd).
Effingham County’s boys and girls competed at the USC-Beaufort High School Cross Country Invitational. For the boys, Seth Moye (20:29.40, 40th) led the Rebels followed by Amari Branch (20:57.80, 44th), Tristan Kurtz (21:32.20, 52nd), Ayden Wine (22:08.70, 58th) and Truett Thompson (22:34.40, 62nd).
For the ECHS girls, Candace Kieffer was eighth with a time of 21:39.60. Brooke Maseda (23:37.50, 18th), Shelby Hilton (23:57.40, 19th), Ivey Rahn (31:18.20, 60th) and Joslynn Valdera (31:18.50, 61st) rounded out the Rebel scorers.
ECHS extends winning streak
Effingham County defeated Richmond Hill 8-1 on Aug. 31 to even its record to 4-4.
After a home game on Sept. 7 against Statesboro, the Rebels remain home for contests with Glynn Academy (Thursday), Brunswick (Monday) and South Effingham (Tuesday).
ECHS, SEHS open region play
The Rebels begin their region schedule Tuesday (Sept. 14) with matches against Glynn Academy and Richmond Hill at Richmond Hill.
ECHS (5-8) lost to Richmond Hill 2-0 on Aug. 10, but since starting the season with six straight losses, the Rebels have won five of their last seven.
The Mustangs (0-5) play Richmond Hill and Statesboro at Statesboro on Thursday.
Reddick released by Mets
Former South Effingham standout Josh Reddick was released by the New York Mets on Aug. 29. Reddick was hitting .182 (6 for 38, HR, 4 RBIs) in 11 games with the Mets’ Triple A affiliate Syracuse.