Tanis Baldwin out-kicks Nick Linder for Eye Opener win

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SPARTANBURG -- Tanis Baldwin came to the 31st Eye Opener hoping to set the course record. He didn't get that, but he did get to work on his kick.

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Baldwin, a junior at East Henderson (N.C.) High School, out-kicked Providence Day (N.C.) School senior Nick Linder to win the international boys race Saturday at the Roger Milliken Center.

Baldwin finished in 15:35. Linder's time was 15:37.

"Until about a mile and a half he was right on my shoulder," Baldwin said. "Then he came up beside me about halfway through, and we kept pushing each other. Then with probably about 400 meters to go, he took it. He started going, and everyone was cheering for him. I was like, 'No, this can't be it. I'll just give it everything I've got.' And it worked out. It was great.

"I'm not used to having any sort of kick or anything like that. I'm used to having to take it out faster to make up for it at the end, and so I wasn't expecting anything fast.

"I'm actually glad I out-kicked him at the end, because he has a tremendous kick. I didn't think I was going to get it whenever he passed me with that much to go. It was awesome."

Baldwin, the runner-up last year in 15:31, has a PR of 15:08.

"I was planning on taking it out faster and coming through in maybe 4:48, not anything too fast but still pushing it," Baldwin said. "I was actually trying to go for the course record, 15:24, but that didn't work out. It's just a little bit humid, and I'm trying to progress slowly, so I'm ready for the end of the season, so I'm fine with the race."

Micah Williams of Greer Middle College Charter was third in 15:55, followed by Jackson Ellenburg of Ashley Ridge in 16:00 and Noah Charles of Science Hill (Tenn.) in 16:11.

The team champion in the boys international race was Providence Day.

The girls international race was reversed: much closer in the team scoring but not as close in the individual race.

Morristown-West (Tenn.) sophomore Makenzie Jones overtook teammate Chantal Wilson and everyone else early in the race and won with a time of 18:17 -- just three seconds off her PR.

Wilson was second in 18:59, and Jones and Wilson led their team to the championship with 42 points -- four fewer than Riverside.

"This race, since it starts downhill, it's really intense, because there's so many people all running so fast at the start that whole first mile," Jones said.

About a quarter-mile into the race, Jones passed Wilson.

"(She) was out in front of me, because that's how she usually starts," Jones said, "and then I caught up to her, and once I got in front, I just tried to hold it there and keep pulling away.

"It did feel good. The miles just started rolling by and I kept thinking, 'Just two more. Just one more. Just about half a mile.' I was very satisfied to run that fast at the beginning of the season."

Halle Hausman of Science Hill came in third in 19:01.

Riverside had the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers, respectively, in Cate Ambrose (19:05, S.C. no. 1), Abigail Smith (19:12) and Ashley Fallow (19:18).

Carlos Oliver of Belton-Honea Path won the boys championship race with a time of 16:49. The runner-up was Zachary Marchinko of Jesse C. Carson (N.C.), who finished in 16:55 and led his team to the title with 152 points.

Maddie McHugh of William A. Hough (N.C.) won the girls championship race (19:25), teammate Paige McKinney was second (19:47) and the two led Hough to first in the team competition with 77 points.

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