SAVANNAH — At the beginning of cross-country season, Effingham County head coach Pam Richards said she simply wanted her runners to set personal records. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for a handful of Rebels to get the job done.
At the 2019 Saucony Classic on Saturday, Kody Everett, Candace Kieffer and Seth Moye established personal standards, making their run through the course at Daffin Park look easy.
Effingham County’s boys finished among an elite group that included West Forsyth, May River and Pace Academy, which clinched the team title.
Everett finished first among the Rebels with a time of 17:02, 38 seconds better than his previous best and good enough for 18th overall. Gunnar Tyson followed at 19:04 and sophomore Moye punched in a time of 19:23.
“I am so stoked and so excited,” Everett said. “All I can do is thank God, my dad and my coach. They helped me through this process and they got me where I needed to be.
“My approach is when I get to the last four hundred (meters), I tell myself, ‘This is it.’ If I don’t give it all I’ve got, I am going to be mad at myself.
“I turned the corner, saw people coming and I started coming for them. I had their number. Luckily, I got them at the end.”
Effingham County sophomore Candace Kieffer finished just outside the top 10 among girls with a time of 20:18. That was good for 11th place.
“I was nervous,” Kieffer. “I didn’t know what to expect because this is the first summer I’ve trained and I’ve run almost every day. I did pass a girl when I was sprinting (near the end).
“When I first started out, I got a little excited and ran twenty seconds under pace race and that hurt me.”
Richards was all smiles afterward and harped on her team’s work ethic.
“I am extremely proud of these young people and it is a direct result of the work they put in this summer,” she said. “Candace and Kody, as well as Seth Moye, spent their summer diligently preparing for this summer. It’s a huge testimony to their commitment.”
South Effingham’s girls team placed ninth overall. Cheyenne Ryan led the pack with a time of 22:45 followed by Diya Patel at 22:59. Both secured top 50 finishes.
For the boys team, Cailan Howard was a surprise, finishing at 17:04. He led the boys to a seventh-place finish.
“(Howard) has done his miles this summer and he is smiling,” Soles said. “He ran 1:41 faster than last year. (I always tell the team) summer miles bring fall smiles.”