If there is one thing the Fort Mill community knows how to produce, it's runners, and that was clear at the cross country state championship on Saturday.
To show how dominant the Fort Mill community is in cross country, for the fourth straight year, a runner from Fort Mill Township has won a state championship and the Fort Mill girls' team won the first sanctioned girls' state title in school history. The only other girls' state championship for the school was in cheerleading in 1993.
Fort Mill finished with a 67. Hilton Head High finished second with a 78, followed by Daniel High School at 88.
The Lady Jackets had three runners finish in the top 10 to give Fort Mill the boost they needed.
"They did what they needed to do," said Lady Jackets head coach Marc Pyrc. "Taylor (Miller), Meredith (Kilburn) and Abby (Lewis) put themselves in a position to win it and our four and five (runners) were right there. It was their day to run great race."
Miller, a senior, was the first finisher for Fort Mill coming in fourth place at 19:10. Kilburn, a junior, was two spots back at sixth place with a time of 19:22 and right behind her was Lewis, a senior, who finished in seventh at 19:30.
Daniel senior Sinead Haughey won the girl's race by 24 seconds with an 18:40.
The Lady Jackets didn't have the best of races as a team at the Upper State qualifying event last week. Despite Miller winning the event, Fort Mill finished second to Daniel last week.
"Last week's finish behind Daniel was a little motivation for them," Pyrc said. "It was a good reality check for them."
Miller, who has come on as the strongest runner on the team late in the season, said she wanted to try and improve on her personal best of 18:34 she had at the qualifying meet.
Despite falling short of that time, Miller said the real goal was to get her team in the position to win.
"I was running for my team," Miller said, who was in tears of joy after the trophy presentation. "I am happy I had a chance to lead the team."
The Nation Ford High girls finished 11th, and the South Pointe High girls finished 13th.
Nation Ford High senior Kevin Ketner won the boys' 3A individual state title after years of trying. Ketner ran a personal best of a 15:59 and won by two seconds over Hilton Head's Jack Manesiotis.
"This whole week I visualized crossing that finish line first," Ketner said. "I tried to go out and run a good strategic race. It felt great."
Ketner has been running cross country for the past four years and has often been overlooked due to the dominance of former Fort Mill runner Mark Blackmon, who has won the past three 4A state championships.
"I have known Mark for most of my life and he is a good guy," Ketner said. "I knew I had my shot and I had to take it. The state race hasn't always been my best race. I just tried training smarter this year. I have been trying to do what I needed to do."
First year Falcons' head coach Caitlyn Tooley beamed with pride after Ketner crossed the line ahead of everyone.
"We are so proud of him," Tooley said. "Kevin has worked so hard this year and it shows. It shows how driven he is."
Tooley said she wasn't sure what to expect in her first year.
"I didn't think I would be in this position," she said. "It has been a privilege to work with them."
Fort Mill boys finished fifth overall and Nation Ford finished ninth.
In the 4A boys' meet, Rock Hill High finished eighth and Clover High finished ninth. Northwestern High School finished in 13th place.
Rock Hill High head coach Chris Chandler had hoped for a better finish for his Bearcat runners.
"We could have run a little bit better," he said. "Overall, we did pretty well. We were hoping for a third place finish. I am real proud of the boys. They worked really hard this year."
In the 4A girls' meet, Lancaster High finished 12th and Rock Hill finished 13th.
3A Girls Team Results
1.Fort Mill 67, 2. Hilton Head 78, 3. Daniel 88, 4. Eastside 132, 5. Wade Hampton 156, 11. Nation Ford 311, 13. South Pointe 379.
3A Girls Individual Results
1.Sinead Haughey, Daniel, 18:40; 4. Taylor Miller, Fort Mill, 19:10; 6. Meredith Kilburn, Fort Mill, 19:22; 7. Abby Lewis, Fort Mill, 19:30; 22. Michelle Case, Fort Mill, 20:18; 23. Kaitlynn Potter, South Pointe, 20:20; 28. Julia Van Buskirk, Fort Mill, 20:24; 42. Kirby Cranford, South Pointe, 20:48; 47. Aubrey Gunnels, Nation Ford, 20:56; 53. Kirsten Peterson, Nation Ford, 21:02; 68. Leah Thornock, Nation Ford, 21:34; 69. Mary Luckie, Nation Ford, 21:36; 73: Emily Lyons, Fort Mill, 21:45; 75. Kelly Balance, Nation Ford, 21:52; 80. Mariah Emenhiser, Nation Ford, 21:57; 82. Mallorie Buchanan, Fort Mill, 21:59; 90. Victoria Burdette, South Pointe, 22:18; 91. Madison Goode, South Pointe, 22:18; 97. Polly Goss, Nation Ford, 22:29; 144. Sarah Marshall, South Pointe, 25:17; 147. Augusta Couch, South Pointe, 25:40; 150. Caitlin Marshall, South Pointe, 25:49.
3A Boys Team Results
1.Hilton Head 33, 2. Wade Hampton 96, 3. Chapin 109, 4. Daniel 130, 5. Fort Mill 181, 9. Nation Ford 232.
3A Boys Individual Results
1.Kevin Ketner, Nation Ford, 15:59; 18. Sam Van Buskirk, Fort Mill, 16:51; 19. Drew Marshall, Fort Mill, 16:51; 22. Jeffrey Case, Fort Mill, 16:53; 23. Austin Wallace, Nation Ford, 16:57; 39. Ray Price, Nation Ford, 17:21; 64. Reid McCandless, Fort Mill, 17:48; 66. Isiah Blackmon, Fort Mill, 17:52; 73. Matthew Case, Fort Mill, 17:56; 78. Oleg Bartles, Fort Mill, 18:03; 88. Brian Weaver, Nation Ford, 18:19; 96. Josh Mifflin, Nation Ford, 18:30; 102. Tyler Wolf, Nation Ford, 18:33; 112. Eric Cirillo, Nation Ford, 18:47.
4A Girls Team Results
1.Dorman 80, 2. Spartanburg 96, 3. Stratford 105, 4. J.L. Mann 106, 5. Lexington 118, 12. Lancaster 329, 13. Rock Hill 367.
4A Girls Individual Results
1.Jasmine Polite, Stratford, 18:18; 20. Alex Moseley, Rock Hill, 19:35; 25. Juliana Hearn, Northwestern, 19:49; 43. JeNae Jones, Lancaster, 20:19; 77. Amber Worthy, Rock Hill, 21:19; 80. Jennell Jones, Lancaster, 21:22; 84. Reagam Latham, Lancaster, 21:39; 89. Jazmyne Jones, Lancaster, 21:46; 93. Brooke Penegar, Lancaster, 21:48; 102. Jaclyn Baker, Rock Hill, 22:04; 108. Eden Christopher, Lancaster, 22:23; 109. Tyson Blanton, Lancaster, 22:44; 114. Riley Moody, Rock Hill, 23:55; 115. Meredith Lenti, Rock Hill, 24:03; 125. Madi Lesslie, Rock Hill, 24:51; 126. Mel Ustanik, Rock Hill, 24:57.
4A Boys Team Results
1.Lexington 58, 2. Ridge View 96, 3. Wando 130, 4. Dorman 154, 5. Spartanburg 191, 8. Rock Hill 224, 9. Clover 224, 13. Northwestern 280.
4A Boys Individual Results
1.Roland Hakes, Dutch Fork, 15:34; 13. Alex Flores, Clover, 16:33; 18. Christian Ruppe, Rock Hill, 16:43; 29. Austin Highfill, Clover, 16:54; 39. Bo Hutchinson, Rock Hill, 17:07; 40. David Hegwood, Northwestern, 17:07; 42. Wylie Penegar, Lancaster, 17:08; 46. David Casey, Rock Hill, 17:11; 48. Thomas Honeyman, Clover, 17:12; 57. Jake Hilkin, Northwestern, 17:19; 59. Jensen Mikels, Northwestern, 17:21; 72. Seth Beck, Rock Hill, 17:33; 77. Holden Hammontree, Clover, 17:38; 81. Will Cranford, Northwestern, 17:43; 85. Cameron Ruppe, Rock Hill, 17:47; 87. Nathan Parker, Northwestern, 17:50; 90. Chad Rollins, Northwestern, 17:51; 91. Weston Beck, Rock Hill, 17:52; 94. Zane Milbradt, Clover, 17:56; 103. Charles Johnson, Rock Hill, 18:09; 110. Grayson Boatright, Northwestern, 18:19; 111. Steven Sparrow, Clover, 18:24; 113. Jason Witry, Clover, 18:28.