Koontz wins race

Jacob Koontz won the individual Horry County Cross Country Championship Wednesday with a medal pace of 16 minutes, 3 seconds. Carolina Forest won the team competition. 

Jacob Koontz, you've just shattered your personal-best time by 30 seconds to win the Horry County Cross County Championship on your home course.

So, how does it feel?

"It hurts," joked the North Myrtle Beach junior while still catching his breathe from winning the boys individual title Tuesday at a blistering medal pace of 16 minutes, 3 seconds.

"No, it feels great. It was a good day for me. The Myrtle Beach guys really pushed the pace early, but I caught up to them on the back straightaway and I just dropped the hammer," added Koontz, who edged Seahawks senior and runner-up Tyler Flannelly (16:16).

But while the focus was on the speed at the front of the relatively flat 3.1-mile course at the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex & Park, the team title came down to depth and a tight-pack mentality.

The Carolina Forest boys repeated as Horry County champions despite having no runners among the top-five individual finishers. However, four Panthers placed in the top 10 within 25 seconds of one another.

Carolina Forest's Kaden Buchler (16:36) and Cullen Dore (16:53) took sixth and seventh to earn all-county honors, and Nick Mohr (16:58) and Charlie King (17:01) rounded out the Top 10. Fifth-runner Anthony Mastroberti (17:09) was close behind to finish 14th individually and give the Panthers a team total of 46 points.

"Our times were about what we expected, but we set our expectations very high and we met them," Carolina Forest boys coach Jesse Patrick said. "It is known as a fast track and we had cooler conditions, but I hope it's also because we are peaking at the right time."

Carolina Forest defeated Region 6-5A rivals Socastee (57), led by respective third- and fourth-place finishers Lucas Davis (16:18) and Zach Evans (16:27). Javan Rivera (16:57) took eighth place to give the Braves three runners in the top 10. St. James (80), paced by fifth-place Ryan Hughes (16:31), finished third as a team.

Region 6-4A powers North Myrtle Beach (89) and Myrtle Beach (116) rounded out the top five boys' squads. Aynor (161) beat out Conway (220) for sixth, Loris and Green Sea Floyds (233) tied for eighth, and Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach (271) was 10th.

A fast track also was the theme of the day for the girls as St. James senior medalist Amelia Johnson also set a personal best of 20:21 to take the girls' individual title.

Johnson, whose time was more than 1 minute faster than last year's winning pace on the same layout, was joined on the all-county squad by teammate and seventh-place Taylor Marotta (21:27) to lead the Lady Sharks to the team title with 50 points.

Socastee (54) was a close second, led by individual runner-up Kyla Marques (20:40) and fifth-place Fianna Steves (21:03). Myrtle Beach (74) got a strong showing from seventh-grader Savannah Gordon (21:30) to help the Lady Seahawks to a third-place finish.

North Myrtle Beach (79) was led by Isabella Spickler (21:00) for a fourth-place individual and team finish. Carolina Forest (121) got a third-place showing from Brianna Hatfield (20:42) to help the Lady Panthers earn fifth, followed by Aynor (141) and Conway (185).

The runners used the county meet as a final tuneup for next week's regionals. Region 6-5A will be held Oct. 30 in Florence, while Region 6-4A will run Oct. 29 in Darlington.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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