The Swain County girls cross country team continued its hot start to the chilly, late-fall season with another dominating performance ahead of the Thanksgiving break. The Lady Devils placed the race’s the top three runners, with Gracie Monteith winning the vent with a time of 22:16.86, Emily Ulaner in second at 24:01.11, and Amelia Rogers in third at 24:11.43.
Host school Hiawassee Dam boasted the fourth-place runner, but Swain’s Lily Bjerkness and Lauryn Linton came in at fifth and sixth respectively, with times of 25:15.96 and 26:50.95. Swain finished first as a team in the event, followed by Hiawassee Dam in second and Highlands in third.
Swain’s fifth runner, Laiken Harvey, did not participate in the event, but Chatham was pleased with how Linton stepped up in her teammate’s absence as the Lady Devils’ number five and believes it will help the team moving forward.
“I’m excited that she is going to be the backup fifth runner, and she might eventually head into our top five.” Chatham said of Linton. “We need seven to have a full team, just in case something happens to someone in the top five. We rely on the sixth runner to break a tie, if needed, and then a seventh person for backup. So, to have a strong top seven is really the ultimate goal of a good team.”
Swain will host its second meet in three weeks on Wednesday, Dec. 2 when Hayesville and Hiawassee Dam come to town. Chatham believes a return to the flat course that resulted in a dominant season opening performance on November 18 will help her team as it faces some fresh competition.
“We are going against Hayesville for the first time this season,” said Chatham. “They have two girls who are quite strong as runners, and I would like my top three to finish before their first runner. I’m going to push them to really get in front of their two top runners and have my first three finish before they come in.”
With Wednesday expected to be the coldest race of the year thus far, the plan is to stay bundled up through warmups, then shed the excess layers just before the race begins. Despite running on a familiar course, Chatham said she expects the weather to still play a role.
From my knowledge, Wednesday, when they compete back here in Swain, it’s supposed to be frigid, so It will probably affect their times,” she said. “It really hurts your lungs if it gets down to a certain temperature.”