Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Seniors Brandt Doty and Wesley Haggstrom both break school cross-country record at same meet last Saturday
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
As the old saying goes, records are meant to be broken.
That was certainly the case this past Saturday in the boys championship race at the Adidas XC Challenge in Cary after not one, but two boys cross-country runners from West Forsyth broke the school record time for a 3.1-mile race.
Seniors Wesley Haggstrom and Brandt Doty broke the previous school record set in 2013 by Garrett Farrimond. Farrimond’s previous record of 15 minutes, 48.15 seconds was surpassed by the 15.34.80 by Haggstrom, who finished 21st, and Doty’s 15.48, as he finished 31st.
Haggstrom’s time was the best of any runner from Forsyth County in the race.
“It means a lot,” Haggstrom said. “I think it has made a lot of the boys excited because there’s a lot of talent. They know they can break it, too. And it just means a lot because Brandt and I have been working really hard for four years, running every day, and just putting in the work. And it’s finally paid off.”
Haggstrom’s previous best time was 16:06.60 set on Aug. 27 at the Providence Cross Country Invitational at McAlpine Park in Charlotte. Doty’s previous best time was 16:11.30.
“It feels great knowing that all the work we’ve put in has paid off,” Doty said.
According to both Haggstrom and Doty, they were running with each other until just inside the final mile of the 3.1-mile course.
“Most of the race we were together,” Doty said. “That last mile, he kind of took off and I knew he was going to break it (the record). And then, seeing him after the race I went up to him and gave him a big hug.”
Finishing as well as Haggstrom and Doty finished out of 295 runners is no small feat.
“My whole gameplan was to take it out a little slow because there was a big hill on the second mile,” Haggstrom said. “And so, I wanted to be good for the last half of the race and get progressively faster.”
Coach Nathan Newsome of West Forsyth saw what Haggstrom and Doty were doing in the final stretch of the race.
“I’ve told them, and I think they get it, I said, you’re real lucky to have someone to train with,” Newsome said. “Doing it by yourself is hard. And to have somebody you can do the workouts with that can help you on the days when you’re not feeling great can get you going and vice versa is really pretty cool.
“And I do think they are respectful of each other the best I can tell. They have a real positive relationship.”
The course was fast and Haggstrom, who is being recruited by UNC Asheville, Appalachian State, Western Carolina and Liberty, took advantage. As for Doty, he’s not sure about running in college, but UNC Asheville is a possibility. However, his dream school is Tennessee to study sports marketing or sports analytics.
“I have been running a little bit more, but I think it’s going to continue to be a toss-up because (Doty) is still right there the whole race, basically,” Haggstrom said. “I just saved a little bit more energy for that last uphill climb to the finish.”
Doty also had a gameplan on the quick course.
“We didn’t take it out too fast. We paced it pretty well,” he said. “So, it was good race, all-around.”
Not only was the course fast, but some other factors contributed to a record-setting day.
“It was a cool morning. It wasn’t humid. The course was pretty dry. The second-fastest time in state history was ran,” Newsome said. “So, it was a really fast field. Wesley beat everybody from Forsyth County. And Brandt beat everybody in Forsyth County except for Wesley and Tabor’s No. 1 kid (senior Andrew Burrell, who finished 26th at 15.43.80). Beat him by just a couple seconds, I think.”
According to Newsome, the course in Cary finishes on an 800-meter hill, and he said he saw both Haggstrom and Doty with about 200 meters remaining.
“When they passed me, I think with Wesley I was able to yell out 14:40-something,” Newsome said. “So, I think at that point, you’re kind of like, ‘Unless I fall flat on my face, I’m going to do it.’
“And I knew that Brandt wasn’t far behind. It was a good day.”
Competition can also push runners to go faster.
“I think he (Haggstrom) was probably aware of these people and where they were,” Newsome said. “It’s a little bit of motivation to pass them.”
Aided by Haggstrom and Doty, the West Forsyth boys finished 15th with 426 points.
“Boys tend to get better as they get older,” Newsome said. “Brandt was good as a freshman. He ran mid-16, 16-high, somewhere around 16:40 as a freshman, but he could never stay healthy. He got hurt every season.
“Wesley’s been really strong. He and Brandt were pretty much neck-and-neck. And Wesley has kind of edged out and gotten a little bit faster since last season.”
The two said they even had plans to celebrate last Saturday, both in Cary and when they got home.
“I think we’re going to have a celebratory round of golf tonight,” Haggstrom said. “Back in Winston — maybe Pudding Ridge or Tanglewood or wherever we can go play.”
Even though both runners are seniors, both still have a chance to break their own records. There are five more big races, counting the NCHSAA Class 4-A Midwest Regional and NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship, which are scheduled on Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 respectively.
“It’s a high bar to set, but I think we can keep improving throughout the season and beat it again,” Doty said.
Haggstrom believes that record will be broken, either by himself or a future runner for the Titans.
“Hopefully it gets broken,” he said. “Hopefully some of the younger boys will break it. And it was just cool to break that record, and it shows a goal that I’ve been working towards the last couple of months.
“And I’m going to try and break my own record and I’m sure Brandt’s going to try and break it, too.”