The 2023 South Carolina cross country season concluded this past weekend with 10 tremendous races. Friday the 4A and 3A schools competed on a hard, dry surface under warm temperatures. Twenty-four hours later, the reverse was true for the 1A, 2A, and 5A teams with drizzle and much cooler (I thought cold) than the day before. But that did not stop the 1,120 finishers and 159 schools from putting their performances into the record books.
We all should remember the time and energy that goes into such an endeavor as the S.C. State Cross Country Championships.
First, we need to pass on a huge thank you to Coach Jimmy Stephens and his crew at Newberry College. The course was well marked, crowd control barriers were set up in appropriate areas, and a huge, covered stage for our award winners. The whole weekend was a big success because of Coach Stephens and his hard work to make the venue as great as it is. He spent days setting up and, while the teams, coaches and officials are resting from a long season this coming week, Coach Stephens will spend the next few days taking all of the flags, tents and barricades down and working with the city of Newberry and some rental companies to get it all returned and put away. The Coaches Association (and I am sure the SC High School League) is indebted to Coach Stephens and his vision for our State Championships.
Next we need to thank the president of the SC Track and Cross Country Coaches Association, Matt Oberly, who for the entire week prior to the State Championships, was working behind the scenes to make sure that every team and individual had entered, answering coaches and parents questions for around the state and generally making sure that everything was in proper order for both days of the meet. And thanks to all of the officers of the SCTCCCA, many of whom do not coach cross country, for giving up one or both days to come and help.
And we also need to remember all of the officials that were out there for all ten races. The clerks, starters, finish line workers, timers, and trainers that many hours before each day's events and an hour or so afterwards to make sure that our athletes had a fair and safe race. Each of our teams had to endure the weather, especially on Saturday, for only a couple of hours, but the officials had to stay out in it for the entirety of the day from set up to take down! Please remember that the races could not happen without all of these people and their efforts.
Congratulations to all of the runners, teams and coaches for a great State Championship. I would like to point out some of these as I work on updating our records after the 2023 meet.
Boys 1A - Brashier Middle College won their second and second straight
Boys 2A - Greer Middle College won their sixth title overall and fifth in-a-row
Boys 3A - Wren - won their first-ever
Boys 4A - Catawba Ridge - won their first ever
Boys 5A - Dorman - won their seventh (which ties them for third most ever)
Girls 1A - Dixie - won their second
Girls 2A - Bishop England - won their fifth
Girls 3A - Philip Simmons - won their second all-time and second in-a-row
Girls 4A - James Island - won their fourth
Girls 5A - Fort Mill - won their second
Boys 1A Christ Church and 2A Academic Magnet both captured their eighth runner-up trophy which makes them tied in third with Eastside as the most overall second place finishes. AAA Girls Daniel also received their eighth runner-up trophy and this ties them with Spartanburg in the top spot for second place. Fort Mill (5A Boys), Greenville (4A Girls), and Greer Middle College (2A Girls) all received their fifth runner-up award. Lexington (Girls 5A) earned their fourth, Philip Simmons (3A Boys) and St. Joseph's (1A Girls) got their third runner-up and Bluffton (4A Boys) won their first.
In the girls individual races, three girls won their first S.C. State Cross Country Championships - Ansley Prescott (junior - Dixie), Nora Brahim (sophomore - Bishop England) and Avah Mallek (Philip Simmons). Hannah Vroon (senior - James Island) won her third. Alivia Cleveland (sophomore - Fort Mill) won her second consecutive meet with the second best 5A winning time ever. Alivia's time of 18:18 was the fastest girl's time in the 2023 championships.
The boys individual races saw Quinn Swanton (junior - Academic Magnet), Elijah Poore (senior - Walhalla) and Garrett Brown (senior - South Pointe) win their first individual title. Jake Liebert (senior - Wando) won his third and third straight title. He now has the second and third fastest winning time in the history of the 5A Championships and the fastest in the 2023 State Meet. Grayson Gibbons (junior - Southside Christian) won his fourth consecutive championship which ties him with the most ever state titles in any classification.
And let's not forget the coaches. Matt Osmulski (Catawba Ridge boys), Mark Wilson (Wren boys), Paul Prescott (Dixie girls), and Lee Whitaker (Fort Mill girls) all won their first S.C. State CC Championships. Josh Michaels (Philip Simmons girls) and Jeremy Heinold (Brashier boys) won their second. David Lee (James Island girls) won his third and Tony Colizzi (Bishop England girls) won his fourth. Jeff Buys (Dorman boys) and David Smith (Greer Middle College) both won their sixth State Championship. Coach Buys and Coach Smith are now tied with four other coaches as the third winningest boys coaches in the 54 year history of the State Championships.
Finally, I would like to salute the All-State runners (top 15 in each race). The Blythewood, West Ashley and Johnsonville girls all picked up their very first female All-State Award. Four schools added four more All-State to their already large collection - Academic Magnet boys, Greer Middle College boys, Dorman boys and James Island girls. The Dixie girls and Philip Simmons girls each picked up five more All-State certificates. The Brashier Middle College and Greer Middle College boys each added six additional All-State athletes. And, the greatest number of All-State awards per year for a team - seven - were awarded to the Bishop England girls.
This is only the third time that this has happened in the girls meets - the other two belong to Riverside who did it twice, in 1997 and 2016.
There are lots of stats that I am working on to keep the history updated. I sent out last week my stats through the 2022 season on SportsYou (see below) and I suggest that you look at these and plug in your schools data to see where you rank. If you have any comments or corrections, or would like for me to do some other category of stats that I don't have listed, please let me know by adding comments to this thread or email me.
Again, congrats and thank you to everyone that made the 2023 South Carolina Cross Country season a huge success.
Guest column by Ed Boehmke, coached for 38 years in South Carolina.