Little was familiar in Tuesday’s three-team cross country meet at Socastee High School except the winners.
St. James’ Billy Krier finished first in the boys race, and Toast of the Coast regular Benjamin Jenerette of North Myrtle Beach coasted to an easy victory in the girls’ competition on a Socastee track that had recently been re-routed, presenting many difficult challenges.
Despite twists and turns, missed markers and unseen flags, the boys field finished with one thing in common: they were behind Krier, one of the area’s top runners the last couple years.
“Last year it was a faster course. This year it’s definitely slower and that changes the tactics a bit, so I just took it easy today,” Krier said. “Changing the course around, you have to memorize it within a few minutes; I was able to do it, and I followed the courses, just like any other race.”
Jenerette was not far behind, with sister Drake in tow. The Jenerette sisters finished first and second in the girls division.
While Krier and the Jenerettes found a nice pace, many other runners struggled with the changes to the course.
Krier saw it firsthand.
“Well, there weren’t any puddles, the sun dried them all out I guess. There were some roots and some bridges though,” he said. “[You know how] the course was all messed up with the girls and boys running against each other [with a 5 minute delay]. At one point in the woods it was a really skinny trail, so I had to dodge them all. I kind of gave up after a half mile, I knew it was going to be a slow day.”
Not at the start, however. With an unfamiliar course, Krier had to change his game plan.
“My main concern was if I had enough room to get out ahead of everyone so I didn’t get stuck behind someone and I didn’t want to fall down either, and with today’s confusion I didn’t want to get lost,” he said.
Socastee coach Joe Grega said revamping the course has been a work in progress. And Tuesday proved it may need a few more tweaks.
“We’ve spent many weekends back here blazing trails and trying to keep things on campus, and also trying to make (the course) more spectator friendly, so we’ve been trying to put all the mile markers in pivotal parts of the race where people, crowds can get excited because sometimes cross country [is] exciting,” Grega said, “but sometimes it’s hard because it’s not on just a little track where everybody can gather around.
“It’s a work in progress. Obviously we want to do a little bit more so that it’s a little more clear cut.”
Nonetheless, the runners got some experience that will help going forward with the season.
“Personally, I think anytime these guys get a chance to get out and run it’s a good thing,” Grega said. “Obviously there were some challenges, though, and we want it to be a challenging course. We know the woods are going to be a little slower than a street race, and that’s what we want, a true cross country experience.”
Contact JOSH BELL at 626-0385.