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Union County Public Schools running at the front of the pack for 37 years

Cuthbertson High School Boys' Cross Country Team are four-time conference champions.

“Some would lead you to believe that football is the only fall sport in Union County,” says Marvin Ridge Cross Country Coach Cameron Starr. “With 11 state championships, five state runner-up performances, eight individual state championships, eight individual state runner-ups, and 63 All-State Runners,” Starr says, “I think cross country just might be the top sport on the state level in Union County.”

In 1975, Tom Harris, a Monroe High School student-athlete, posted a time of 15:37 in the State Championship Cross Country Meet. This three-mile time earned Harris an 11th place finish during a time when all classifications of schools competed together, regardless of school size. Not only did he bring credit to Monroe High School, he led a pack of Union County runners who would achieve statewide success over the course of the next 37 years.

Four Union County runners would win the Individual state championship two times each, earning eight Individual state championships for the county: Suzanne Black, Sun Valley High School – 1989, 1991; Brian Zmijewski, Sun Valley High School – 1991, 1992; Kevin Crosby, Sun Valley High School – 1998, 1999; and Leigh Ann Taylor, Monroe High School– 2002, 2003. Eight runners would earn nine runner-up finishes. Jonathan Bivens, Weddington High School, was the most recent placing second in the state in 2011, while Chris Colo, Marvin Ridge High School, placed second in the state in 2009 and 2010. Since 1975, 63 Union County runners have finished in the Top Ten, earning recognition as All-State Runners.

The first team state recognition would be earned by Sun Valley High School in 1985. The Spartans placed fourth in the state in the final year that all classifications of schools competed together regardless of school size.

One year later, Sun Valley High School’s Boys’ Team won the State 3A Cross Country Championship. The Lady Spartans also placed third in the state as well. Sun Valley was not the only team from Union County to win a state championship in Cross Country that year. Monroe High School’s Girls’ Cross Country Team also won the 1A/2A Cross Country Championship.

Sun Valley’s 1986 boys’ Cross Country State Championship was the first of five consecutive state championships and eight state championships between 1986 and 1999. The Sun Valley girls won the state championship in 1989. Weddington High School’s Girls’ Team earned Union County’s 11th state championship in the sport when they won the State Cross Country Championship in 2003.

Five teams have earned status as state runner-up: Sun Valley boys – 1991; Sun Valley girls – 1991; Weddington boys – 2003; Weddington girls – 2004; and Marvin Ridge boys in 2010.

In each of the last 27 years, at least one Union County High School has placed a team in the Top Ten in the state. Last year, seven Union County teams placed in the Top Ten: Marvin Ridge High School Girls – fourth place (3A); Weddington High School Girls – seventh place (3A); Cuthbertson High School girls – fifth place (2A); Weddington High School boys – third place (3A); Marvin Ridge High School boys – fifth place (3A); Cuthbertson High School boys – fourth place (2A); Piedmont High School boys – 10th place (2A).

This year promises to be another banner year for Union County Cross Country. Weddington and Marvin Ridge will be competing in the 3A Regional Championships on Saturday, October 27th at McAlpine Creek Park. Both boys and girls teams from both schools are ranked in the region and state. The top four teams will advance to the state championship.

Cuthbertson and Piedmont High Schools will be competing in Kernersville in the 2A Midwest Regionals. Cuthbertson’s boys and girls teams are ranked first in the Region and have state rankings as well. Piedmont’s girls (second) and boys (third) have been ranked in the region, while the Piedmont girls’ team is ranked in the state’s top 10 among 2A schools.

Listed below are Union County rankings:

3A Midwest Regional Rankings
1st- Weddington Boys
2nd Marvin Ridge Boys

1st- Marvin Ridge Girls
4th- Weddington Girls
*Top 4 Teams at the Regional Meets will advance to the state championship Meet

3A State Rankings
3rd- Weddington Boys
4th- Marvin Ridge Boys

3rd- Marvin Ridge Girls
6th- Weddington Girls

*Matt Burns, Weddington, is ranked 6th as an individual in the 3A Classification.
*Mallory Price, Weddington, is ranked 6th as an individual in the 3A Classification.
*Melanie Hussey, Marvin Ridge, is ranked 9th as an individual in the 3A Classification.

2A Midwest Regional Rankings
1st- Cuthbertson Boys
3rd- Piedmont Boys

1st- Cuthbertson Girls
2nd- Piedmont Girls
*Top 4 Teams at the Regional Meets will advance to the state championship meet

2A State Rankings
4th- Cuthbertson Boys

2nd- Cuthbertson Girls
7th- Piedmont Girls

*Madison Simmons, Cuthbertson is ranked 5th as an individual in the 2A classification

Written by: Rob Jackson, UCPS Community Relations and Communications Liaison
Posted: Oct 24, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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