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by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WILMINGTON— The Franklin Academy girls cross country team raced to a fourth place finish during Saturday’s Seahawk Classic, held at UNC-Wilmington.
Hannah Zenker was the varsity girl’s champion, finishing the 5K course in 19:54.
Nineteen high school teams, from 1A -4A, competed in the race, which included 127 runners.
Zenker ran with eighth grader Lindsay Ickes of Forsyth Country Day for part of the race before pulling away and taking charge of the event. She crossed the finish line 23 seconds ahead of Ickes.
Franklin Academy captain Aly Chura was 15th overall in 21:48 and freshman Ally Christopher, posted a time of 22:20, good enough for 21st place.
“The weather cooperated better than last year but it was still quite warm,” said Patriots coach Beth Martin, “and the course was wide open with no shade or protection from the sun.”
The Bishop Guinness girls’ team won the race and finished one point ahead of runner-up Middle Creek High School.
There were 128 runners from 19 schools in the boy’s race and Franklin Academy came in tenth place.
Justin Martin was the only Patriot runner to finish in the top 20 and he was 14th overall with a time of 17:57.
Matthew Pertz set a new personal record of 18:59 and Evan Uhlig ran the race in 19:58.
Also running under 20 minutes was freshman Kevin Ruiz, 19:59
Jake Quirk, a sophomore, recorded a personal best time of 20:58.
“This was our guy’s debut at the Seahawk Classic and Coach Reece and I were very pleased with their effort,” Martin said. “They all improved their times from earlier meets this season and did well with their pacing and handled the crowded start with ease.”
Some of the Patriots also ran in Monday’s junior varsity coed event during the Granville Invitational at Webb High School in Oxford.
“Since our varsity had just raced hard over the weekend, we gave them the day off of racing,” Martin said. “However, we agreed to let Hannah and Aly run in the two-mile junior varsity race.”
“It was a great opportunity for our less experienced runners and JV team to race in a large multi-school meet,” Martin added.
Nick Mazzoleni was the only varsity member of the boys’ team to run because he did not compete in Wilmington.
“He ran a strong race on a fairly difficult course,” Martin said.
Mazzoleni was fifth and completed the race less than twenty minutes and teammate Sean Beatty came in 30th place.
The Franklin Academy girls were paced by Abby Wade, who was 18th.
Zenker placed first among all the girls and was nearly the fastest against the boys, before she was caught at the finish line by a male runner.
Chura also beat out several guys as she was second overall in the JV girl’s race.
Franklin Academy will race again today (Thursday) against Kestrel and River Mill in a meet at River Mill.