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Bulldogs cross country makes progress

Junior Shamond Smith recently became the first cross country runner at King’s Fork High School to qualify for the state tournament.

Last Friday, Smith competed in the Virginia High School League State Cross Country Championship meet and finished 59th.

Smith, who came out for his first season of cross country this fall, holds the fastest cross country time in school history (17:09). After placing fourth at regionals, he finished in the middle of the 110-man field at the state meet, which included the top distance runners from 52 schools in the Class 4 classification.

“Considering that a solid group of schools that have rich histories of long distance running were placing their entire team of seven runners into the state meet, it was a daunting assignment,” Bulldogs coach Steven Shepard said. “Shamond was a pleasure to work with this fall, stretching out from his previous sweet spot as a middle-distance track guy, and embracing being a distance runner.”

While Smith had never raced at the cross country distance (3.1 miles) before this fall, Sheppard and Smith had a synergy from working together in the indoor and outdoor track season, where Smith ended up all-state in the 1,000 meters indoor and 10th in the 800 meters outdoor.

“Shamond quickly bought in to the longer work I assigned over the summer and into this fall that was needed to succeed in cross country too,” Sheppard said. “I’m proud of him and look forward to him being one of our team leaders next fall.”

The Bulldogs boys’ cross country team had impressive finishes during the regular season. They finished top five in most of the Southeastern District meets, and the team ran an average of 17:50. It is a significant improvement, considering only three male runners before this season had achieved that goal.

King’s Fork will bring back three of their top four runners next fall and will look to improve on their sixth-place finish out of 13 teams this fall at regionals. Sixth is the highest KFHS has placed in school history. The girls’ team placed eighth at regionals this fall, also an improvement from last year, and they bring back six of their top seven runners next fall.