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Watauga, West Henderson take top spots in high school division of Firetower Project

Hudson Rice of West Henderson and Will Bradbury of Watauga battle for the lead midway through the Firetower Project men’s high school division race on Sept. 16. Photo by David Rogers

By David Rogers for HighCountrySports.net

BOONE, N.C. — Perfect weather for long distance running marked the Firetower Project cross country races at Appalachian State’s State Farm Intramural Fields and the Don Kennedy Trails.

The men’s and women’s high school divisions were dominated by Watauga and West Henderson harriers. Brianna and Gwendolyn Anderson swept the first two spots in the women’s division (19:38.91 and 19:43.70, respectively), with eight Pioneers finishing in the top 15. West Henderson countered with six athletes in the top 15, among the 51 runners from seven schools.

Don Kennedy, namesake for the Don Kennedy Trails at State Farm Intramural Fields was on hand for the Firehouse Project races. He is believed to have been the first Mountaineer XC athlete to earn All-American recognition. Photo by David Rogers

Other top finishers for the Pioneer women included Savannah Duval (Sr., 5th), Rachel Cathey (Jr., 7th), Janie Beach-Verhay (Fr., 10th), Andriana Rink (Sr., 11th), Maddie Bollman (Soph., 14th), and Sydney Cate Townsend (Fr., 15th).

In the men’s division, Watauga’s Will Bradbury finished second (16:43.95) behind West Henderson’s Hudson Rice in first (16:28.49). West Henderson took four of the top six spots, while the Pioneers placed seven in the top 16.

Bradbury, a sophomore, was followed by fellow Pioneers Collin Anderson (Jr.) in eighth, Roman Sibaja (Jr.) in ninth, Elliott Taft (Fr.) in 11th, Sam Nixon (Jr.) in 14th, Jonah Norris (Soph.) in 15th and Sam Rex (Soph.) in 16th. Sixty-seven athletes competed in the high school men’s division, from seven schools.