COVINGTON - Newton's Travis Knight ran a personal best time of 17 minutes, 36 seconds to claim the region title in the Region 2-AAAAA cross country meet Saturday.
On the girls side, Newton's Ameryst Armstead finished second in the region with a time of 21:03.
But more importantly, both teams will be heading to Carrollton for the Class AAAAA cross country meet with a third-place finish for the boys and a fourth-place finish for the girls.
"We qualified for state for the fourth year in a row," Newton coach Aaron Robinson said. "It's something that was started by Scott Rains when he was coaching here. I'm just glad that we could carry it on. These guys have done a good job with that."
Knight made the turn in the midway point in fourth place in the boys race. However, he managed to stay at a steady pace and finish ahead of Luella's Jeremy Weatherford and Union Grove's Josiah Stanton-Brooks for the win.
"He ran a real smart race and did not go out here and overextend himself too early," Robinson said. "Knowing the competition, that was smart. We've seen these guys before. He really surprised some people. I'm pleased for him to get another (personal record), especially today when he needed it. He ran the race he needed when he needed it. It's his senior year, and I can't say enough about the work he's put in and the results."
Finishing in the top five for the state-bound boys were Raymond Menefee (12th overall, 18:36), LeDarren Hall (16th, 19:57), Tyler Ransom (17th , 19:58) and Matt Knight (20th, 19:37).
Newton finished third in team scores with 66 points.
Also headed to state are first-place Luella (34 points), followed by Union Grove (35) and Douglass (100).
Luella freshman Kayla Millholland won the girls region championship, finishing 20 seconds ahead of Armstead.
Millholland finished with a time of 20:43 with Union Grove's Madeline McCane, taking third and coming in five seconds after Armstead.
"We knew she was going to finish in the top couple of places," Robinson said. "We're real happy where she finished and in her time. She's improved all through the season. It wasn't a surprise, it was very exciting. We just hope she can keep that going all through the state meet."
With five finishes in the top 15, Union Grove won the meet with 40 points. Luella finished second with 46 followed by Redan with 72 and Newton with 92.
Despite a fourth place finish, the girls reached their preseason goal of going to state for the fourth time.
"That was one of our goals in the start of the season," Robinson said. "We came in with just five girls and got another one halfway through the season. That was one of those goals you weren't sure you were going to reach. It's sweeter when you do."
Finishing in the top five for Newton with Armstead were Megan Heineman (eighth, 22:26), Tashia Bowrin (24, 25:22), Claire Davis (28, 26:30) and Shandia Caldwell (33, 37:13).
This will be Davis and Heineman's third trip to the state meet and the first time for the rest of the girls.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.