by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKE FOREST — Heritage High School cross country runner Grant Rodgers had a feeling something special was about to happen in the dual meet with Wakefield October 2.
It turns out he was right.
His time of 16:22.4 was the fastest pace by any high school male that has run the 5K course at Flaherty Park in Wake Forest.
Rodgers, a senior, shattered the old record of 16:34 set by Wakefield’s Mitch Mallory in 2009.
“This race was different than most of the others because generally with dual meets, I will treat them like workouts for bigger races over the weekend,” Rodgers said.
“Considering this was going to be my last dual meet, I told myself I had to go for Mitch Mallory’s course record.”
The route at Flaherty Park is a particularly competitive and slow course for runners but Rogers led the entire time and said it was basically a race against the clock.
“I went into the race shooting for 5:15 per mile, which is pretty tough at Flaherty, especially because the day I ran it, the temperature was around 85 degrees.”
“Nevertheless, I paced 5:15’s on the dot,” he said.
Rodgers said he felt alright during the race despite battling a cold.
“I was pretty tired but I wanted the record so I shook it off and focused on hitting my splits,” he said.
“I started my watch so I knew my times at all areas of the race and coming into the last 500 meters I saw my time and knew I was well under record pace so I started running hard to the finish,” Rodgers said.
Heritage took seven of the top nine spots in the meet to defeat Wakefield.
The Huskies Matt Dausch was second in 17:58.
“Grant had his best race this year and Matt had another impressive run,” said Heritage cross country assistant coach Jim Burrows. “Overall it was one of our best meets of the season.”
Wakefield’s Tre Brooks and Wyatt Schug placed third and fourth with times of 18:13.7 and 19:01.9, respectively.
Crossing the finish line next were Heritage runners Anthony Hampton, 19:02.6; Gabriel Gonzalez, 19:10.5; Tyler Crum, 19:19; Bailey Kerr, 19:51.4 and Connor Hellman, 20:15.5.
James Kim of Wakefield rounded out the top ten with a time of 20:22.1.
Wakefield dominated the girl’s race with Megan Blawas, Ashley Blawas and Lauren Monroe finishing as the top three.
Ashley Jeckel was the first girl from Heritage to cross the line in 22:49.5.
The Wolverines Stacey Ransom was fifth in 23:18.9 while her teammate Kaitlin House posted a time of 24:34.3 to finish in sixth place.
Caitlin Brennan of Heritage came in seventh in 24:37.8 and Wakefield’s Gabby Morris followed in 24:43.8.
Ninth and tenth place went to Cameron Good of Heritage, 24:52.8 and Wakefield’s Ciara Winders, 25:01.1.