Mere weeks ago, Brian White was preparing for emergency gall bladder surgery.
At the time, he didn’t know if or when he would return in the 2017 cross country campaign. What he did know, however, his Waccamaw squad was in good hands.
“I had a great new assistant coach in Julia Woods who took over for me,” White said. “She carried the ball while I was out. And the girls did what they know to do, getting ready for (the Class 3A state meet).”
On Saturday, White and Woods celebrated the fruits of them and their team’s labor.
Waccamaw claimed its second state title in three years with a dominant performance at the state meet.
The Warriors defeated their nearest competitors — by 50 points.
“I think we really handled the heat better than many of the other teams,” White said. “We’re used to the heat, being that we’re from the coast and all. I told our girls to be prepared for it, and they were ready.”
Eighth-graders Annabelle Scully and Alice Francke led the way for Waccamaw, finishing seventh and 11th, respectively. Freshman Ella Fata wound up 13th, while Anna Margaret Loftus and Briley Arnold were 16th and 17th.
According to Woods, getting the group prepared was the easy part.
“They want to work hard … I act more like a cheerleader,” she said. “… It feels so awesome, these girls deserve it. All summer, all fall they’ve worked, and to see the end result, I’m so happy.”
The fun times weren’t over for the Warriors, however, as the boys cross country team brought home hardware of its own.
Waccamaw outlasted second-place Bishop England to claim the program’s first state championship on Saturday, allowing the school to earn a rare sweep.
For coach Robert Del Bagno, the title was a long time in the making.
“When I came here, me and (White) said our goal was to win state titles at the same time,” he said. “We’ve been close before, only to be runner-up. In 2015, I felt like I let Coach White down, because they won and we didn’t.
“That really just makes (Saturday) that much sweeter. I’m so proud of our guys.”
Running at the front all season long, junior Perrin Jones claimed third overall in the Class 3A boys race. Jack Moody also earned a top 10 finish.
Also earning high marks were Rion Keesee (17th), Weston Stokes (20th) and Berndt Anderson (22nd).
▪ Green Sea Floyds finished third in Class A with 94 points. The Trojans’ Jackson Jeter finished third in the race with a time just shy of 19 minutes.
▪ North Myrtle Beach girls finished eighth in Class 4A with 270 points, while St. James was 15th with 430 points.