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Rams ready for fourth straight state appearance

COVINGTON - For the Newton Rams, going to the Class AAAAA State cross country meet is getting to be a habit.

This Saturday, the Newton boys and girls cross country teams will make their fourth straight trip to Carrollton to run in the state meet.

The Newton boys run at 1 p.m. while the girls' race will take place at 1:30 p.m.

"Four years straight, and that's something to be proud of," Newton head cross country coach Aaron Robinson said. "It's a big accomplishment and I want them to enjoy it."

BOYS

The Newton boys qualified for state by finishing third in last week's region meet behind Luella and Union Grove.

"We had a solid group this year," Robinson said. "The one, two, three guys have been Travis (Knight), LeDarren (Hall) and Raymond (Menefee) and four, five through seven we've had people back and forth and that's what you want. The competition makes everyone improve. Even our 10th place guys have worked hard and push the guys upfront."

Knight won the region title last week with a time of 17 minutes, 36 seconds, while Hall was 12th with a time of 18:36 and Hall was 16th with a time of 19:57.

"I'm really happy things have worked out so well at the end of the season for him," Robinson said of Knight's senior season. "All of the hard work has paid off, and I hope he has a good state meet."

The Newton boys placed 25th in last year's state meet.

GIRLS

At the beginning of the season, Newton was lucky to have enough girls just to field a full squad, but last week in the Region 2-AAAAA meet, the Lady Rams qualified for state with a fourth-place finish.

With few runners, the Newton girls had little room for error, but Robinson was pleased with the effort all season.

"I was impressed with them," Robinson said. "With low numbers, it makes things sort of difficult. We need good efforts out of all six girls. We hoped to improve at region and they did what they need to. All of the girls raced their best times."

Junior Ameryst Armstead, who is in her first season of cross country, has paced the Newton girls all season. Last week at region she finished second with a time of 21:03.

While she is new to cross country, she is an accomplished distance runner in track. Last season at the region track meet, she swept the distance events.

"I've been trying to get her out for cross country and she made the decision herself," Robinson said. "She decided to be a distance runner, and cross country is a part of it. She definitely excels at track, and the cross country is complementary to track. I think the cross country is going to help her quite a bit."

Senior Megan Heineman also is a key runner for the Lady Rams. Last week, Heineman was eighth with a time of 22:26.

"Megan's improved a minute faster (at the region meet), and that's the kind of improvement you hope for. She seemed a little bit surprised at region," Robinson said. "I bet she can run the time she did at region."

Anthony Rhoads can be reached at anthony.rhoads@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: State meet

What: Class AAAAA State Cross Country Meet

Where: Carrollton Elementary School

When: Saturday with Class AAAAA boys race at 1 p.m., girls at 1:30 p.m.