On October 14th, 2017, the New Covenant Cavaliers’ Cross Country team traveled to Fort Mill to compete in the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools (SCACS) State Championship Meet. It was a fantastic team race in which the Cavalier boys, in only their second season, finished second to Hampton Park Christian School by a razor thin margin of 5 points.
The race started under partly cloudy skies with perfect racing conditions and New Covenant wasted no time in letting everyone know that they were there to race for the win. The Cavaliers had a pack of 6 boys move straight to the front and dictate the pace for much of the race. The state meet course consists of 4 loops and by the end of the first loop, New Covenant had it’s top 6 runners all in the top 15. As the race progressed, junior Alyosha Truman moved to the front and battled for the top spot the rest of the way. Meanwhile a pack of Cavalier runners, led by sophomore Elliott Wright grouped together and battled to stay within the top 10. It was a near perfect execution of the race plan that was laid out by Coach Joe Canney.
“This group of guys has been one of the best I have ever coached,” Coach Canney said after the race. “They bought in from day one and followed our training program without hesitation. That was on full display in today’s race as the guys carried out our race plan just as I instructed them to.”
The finish saw 4 Cavaliers place in the top 9, led by Alyosha Truman’s 3rd place finish. Just behind him were Elliott Wright (6th), Ethan Varghese (7th), and Evan Hamilton (9th). Additionally, junior Houston Funk finished 13th and sophomore Gabe Miller 20th.
Coach Canney pointed out the improvement of some of his younger runners.”The young guys really stepped up today. Ethan and Evan are both 8th graders for us and they have been coming on, running faster all year.” Coach Canney continued, “We battled and worked hard all year. Gabe was third in the state last year, but he has been dealing with some injuries. He really grinded it out today, which shows you the heart he has and the heart of this team.”
It was a narrow defeat for the Cavaliers, as returning state champions Hampton Park totaled 20 points with their top runners finishing 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 12th. “It does not get much closer than that in Cross Country,” said Coach Canney. “Hampton Park has a really good program and we knew they were the team to beat. SCACS only scores to the top 4 runners (standard cross country meets score 5) so when they finished first and second I knew it would be unlikely we would beat them. But with 5 guys in the top 13 and the whole team racing as a team, we have nothing to hang our heads about.”
Additional finishers for the Cavaliers were Alex Gebing (40th), Ethan Wright (45th), Ian McCall (48th), Mike Albanese (52nd), Ben Matthews (54th), and Jacob Valentine (68th).
With some closing thoughts after the meet, Coach Canney was optimistic about the future of the Cavalier running program, “We had no seniors this year, so potentially all my boys could be back. We have the chance to be a really special group next year if we train throughout the winter, spring, and summer. But for right now we just want to focus on celebrating this season that the Lord blessed us with.”