Sallywhite qualifies for states

Published 12:11 am Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lakeland High School senior Raekwon Sallywhite qualified to compete in the VHSL Group 3A cross country state championships with his performance in the Region 3A East cross country championships on Tuesday at Culpeper High School.

He took 38th out of 81 runners in the boys’ 5,000-meter run with a time of 18:38.2.

“He did what he had to do running at a place he had never seen before on terrain that we just do not have down here in Hampton Roads,” Cavaliers coach Chris Novakoski said.

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The coach described the course in Culpeper as possessing long inclining hills, as well as sharp steep hills.

“We figured everybody was off from 40 seconds to a minute from Bells Mill (Park) time,” Novakoski said.

Bells Mill Park in Chesapeake was the location of the Conference 27 championships, in which Sallywhite finished with a personal record time of 17:06.70, placing him fifth out of 37 male runners in the event.

As a team at regionals, Lakeland finished 10th out of 11 squads.

“It was a learning experience for the team,” Novakoski said of Tuesday’s event. “We were projected at 10 out of (11) and we finished 10 out of (11), so would I have liked to have done better? Yes, but we had never seen a course quite like that before. We did our best to prepare, but it was definitely a learning experience.”

Novakoski hopes the lesson is learned, as everyone except for Raekwon Sallywhite is coming back next year.

While all of his runners’ times were up on Tuesday, Novakoski was notably pleased with the time of Sallywhite’s brother, freshman Rontavius Sallywhite.

“He was close to Ryan (Wright), and that’s the closest he’s been to Ryan all year,” the coach said.

Wright, a sophomore, finished with a time of 19:20.2, good for 53rd place, and Rontavius Sallywhite was right behind with a time of 19:24.5, good for 54th place.

The elder Sallywhite will be competing in the Virginia High School League Group 3A cross country state championships on Nov. 14 at the Great Meadow Foundation in The Plains.