It came a day late. But it was definitely worth the wait.
The Philip Simmons High School girls’ cross country team won the first state championship in the program’s brief history with a 42-52 victory over Waccamaw for the Class AAA title at the Sandhills Research Center in Columbia on Nov. 12.
The state meet was scheduled to be run the day before. But the effects and concerns that Tropical Storm Nicole presented caused the postponement. The South Carolina High School League pushed the race to the next day.
The Iron Horse girls were the first team, girls or boys, to win a state cross country title at PSHS. The Iron Horse boys finished third in Class AAA as Dreher scored 67, Powdersville was second with 77 points while Philip Simmons claimed third place with 98.
“It was a great day,” said Josh Michael, who coaches both the girls and boys. “The weather? You never know. Literally all season long we would say ‘November 11th. November 11th. November 11th.’ Then, when it gets here on Nov. 11, they change it to the next day.”
What makes the championship even so much more impressive is that all of the Iron Horses’ top runners will return next season.
Junior Josie May led the Iron Horses with a fourth-place finish with a time of 20 minutes and 12 seconds over the 5K course. Freshman Ava Mallek also shone with a fifth-place finish. Laura Perry and Lilah May are names to remember after an impressive day. The seventh-
graders had memorable efforts with Perry finishing eighth and May 10th. All four runners earned all-state honors.
Freshman Phoebe Cogan and juniors Emmy Wood and Hailey Meyers round out the top seven.
“We’re young, but we have that experience,” Michael said. “We have three juniors who have been running for us since the seventh grade, so you know they were in it for the long haul. We also have two freshmen and seventh-graders (in our top-seven runners).
Will the Iron Horse girls be ready for an encore in 2023?
“It is so hard to repeat as a cross country state champion in South Carolina because there is so much talent,” Michael said.
PS BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
The Iron Horse boys, who held the top spot in Class AAA for a good while this season, finished third.
The state meet concluded the Iron Horses’ first season as a Class AAA team after the High School League’s biennial reclassification.
“The initial thought was that (finishing third) was disappointing,” Michael said. “But finishing third is quite an accomplishment when we will look back. The big thing is there are more teams that have the potential to win. That makes it challenging.”
Pierce Walker led the Iron Horses to their third-place finish as he captured eighth place with a time of 17:04 to earn all-state status as a top-15 finisher. Ryan Rousseau, Ian Mullaney and Joseph Wright all finished in the top 20.
Burket Yaun, Wesley Patterson and Luke Roberts rounded out the top seven Iron Horse runners.