West Forsyth cross country teams sweep Norman Trzaskoma Invitational

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sophomore Eliza Broce sets new course record to win girls individual championship

By Marc Pruitt
For the Clemmons Courier

It was a good day for the runners with the green jerseys last Wednesday during the Norman Trzaskoma Invitational at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville.

Sophomore Eliza Broce scorched her way to the girls’ individual title while setting a new course record for a two-mile race and helping the girls team win their second straight championship.

And for the first time since Jeff Thompson started coaching the boys’ team in 1990, the Titans can call themselves the “Kings of the County” after edging Mount Tabor for the team championship.

Broce finished in 11 minutes, 44.51 seconds and pulled away from runner up Ainsley Cooper of Reagan in the final 400 meters, shattering the previous meet record of 11:48 held by Isabel Zimmerman of Reagan.

Broce said that her strategy was to keep the lead pack of runners in her sights before she made her move towards the end of the race.

“I knew the girls from Reagan and Mount Tabor wanted to go out fast, so I just wanted to be sure I was in the lead pack or near it in the beginning,” Broce said. “And honestly, it was a struggle to keep up with Ainsley (Cooper), who went out really fast. She’s definitely one of the top runners in this area. But I noticed that every time she went up a hill, she would slow down a little bit. And I knew there was a bigger hill towards the end of the course and I decided I would make my move there.”

Broce made her move around Cooper and pulled away, beating Cooper by more than nine seconds.

“I told myself that it was ‘go time’ and she was a little ahead of me, but I ended up passing her running down the hill and really worked the uphill part and prayed I could hold on for the final 400 meters or so for the finish. The last stretch felt super long because I wanted it to be over. I kept checking through the corner of my eye for shadows to see if anyone was getting close to try and pass me. That’s the hardest I’ve ever pushed during a race. I had never won a race like this before, so getting my first one at this event was really cool.”

The Titans placed five runners in the top eight and seven in the top 15 and finished with 26 points, easily outdistancing runner up Reagan (47).

Coach Nathan Newsome had a good idea as runners crossed the finish line that their second straight team championship was likely.

“This was the first time we’ve had the whole team with us all season,” Newsome said. “With about 400 (meters) to go, I had done the math in my head with the race winding down and I knew we had five of the top eight. I knew there was a lot of green up front.”

Kendall Phillips (fourth), Bailey Reutinger (sixth), Shelby Lowder (seventh), Zavera Basrai (eighth) rounded out the five scoring runners, and Taylar White (13th) and Janie Peterson (15th) also had strong showings for the Titans.

“I told them beforehand, we have to run smart and run well,” Newsome said. “I felt confident we could win, but I’ve done this long enough to know that anything can happen. I knew Reagan would be strong, as would Mount Tabor. You keep yourself honest by running against good competition on a regular basis, and we get to do that a lot with Reagan in our conference and running against Tabor at meets like this. It was a fun day that I think will continue to boost our confidence.”

It would not be a stretch to say that winning the boys team title was a pleasant surprise.

“Going in, I thought we could be anywhere from first to fourth,” Thompson said. “I knew it was going to be pretty wide open, but if it was our day and our guys were focused, we might win. But over the summer, we went to a team camp at Appalachian State, and on the last day, you run against other teams in a two-mile race. Reynolds was there, and they killed us.”

This time, it was West’s day. The Titans finished with 58 points to edge Mount Tabor (64). Reagan and Reynolds tied for third with 76 points.

Will Atkins led the Titans with a sixth-place finish and Brock Newsome finished 10th. Jeremy Eldredge (13th), Jackson Nichols (14th) and Cole Meixsell (15th) rounded up the finishes of the five scoring runners.

“I think Brock (Newsome) passed three or four kids in the last 200 meters,” Thompson said. “And no matter what meet you are running in, moving up a spot or two can make a big difference.”

“In a meet like this one, you really need every spot,” Thompson said. “Will did his job and everyone else just kind of did their part and it was one of those days where everything was golden, and things worked out for us. And since this was the first one I can remember since I started with the team in 1990, that tells you how strong our city and county are with running talent. That makes us even better with all those quality programs out there.”

Thompson said that winning this meet will certainly give his team a jolt of confidence.

“It also means we aren’t flying under the radar anymore, because we beat some really good teams,” Thompson said. “Now we’ll start talking about how to handle those expectations and still be ready to compete. That’s the mental side of it.”