HICKORY - Elkin runners put the finishing touches on a dominating offseason Saturday at the Hickory Christian Academy 5K race.
Senior Brandon Welborn and junior Shakai Ward powered the 10 Buckin’ Elks who were competing, capturing first place in the men’s and women’s races, respectively.
Welborn was locked in a battle with Alfredo Dominguez of Lincolnton until the last mile of the race, when the Elkin senior pulled away to win by 14 seconds with a time of 16:59. Ward led the women’s race from the beginning to best Charlotte Hartman of Hickory by 30 seconds with a time of 21:07. Her winning time was a 1:30 faster than her previous personal best time.
Sophomores Jacob Parker and Said Javier found their way to the podium behind Welborn, finishing third and fourth, respectively. Parker bested his teammate by only two seconds, running 17:42 to Javier’s 17:44. Sophomore’s Blake Poplin and Eli Brown had top-20 finishes, with Poplin placing 16th in 19:16 and Brown placing 17th in 19:22.
Brown won first place in the 14 and under age group. Senior Jeremy Pierce rounded out the Elkin boys, finishing 24th overall in a time of 20:23.
In addition to Elkin’s Ward capturing the overall win in the women’s race, junior Madeline Carter captured second place in the 15-19 year old age group with a time of 24:03. Running in their first 5K races of their careers, junior Hannah Pittman and sophomore Carrie Faw placed sixth and eighth in the 15-19 year old age group with times of 28:21 and 32:45, respectively.
“I was most pleased with the way everyone ran,” Elkin distance coach Dan Merritt said. “Most everyone ran personal best times or came close to it. The boys worked together as a team and pushed each other. While team scores were not kept, of the high school teams that were there the Elkin boys would have won.
“The girls also ran well, with Shakai capturing the overall win and Madeline placing second in her age group. It was the first 5K race for Carrie and Hannah and it was a new experience for them. But now that they have one under their belt, continued improvement will come quickly. I am excited about the season beginning, and the hard work the kids have been doing this summer has paid off,” he added.
This year’s race drew 418 runners, with many high school runners competing in one last preseason race before the cross-country regular season begins in a few days.
Elkin’s first meet is slated for September 5 at Yadkinville Park, hosted by Forbush.