Newton runs mixed season

COVINGTON - Newton's cross country team had highs and lows on the course this season.

While the boys made it to the Class AAAAA meet for the fifth time, the girls failed to have a full squad running only two runners in the Region 2-AAAAA meet.

"All the boys managed to make contributions that went beyond expectations," Newton coach Aaron Robinson said. "The girls managed a good effort for the low numbers that participated."

Running for the Newton girls at the meet were Ameryst Armstead and Amanda Childress.

However, the boys, led by senior Raymond Menefee with an eighth place finish in 18 minutes, 13 seconds, came out of the region meet with a fourth place finish to make it to the state meet again.

"We were fortunate to reach our goal of qualifying for the state meet for the fifth year in a row, but failed to better our place there from the past year," Robinson said. "That was a lofty goal, however, as we had graduated our top two runners from the year before and had only a handful of experienced runners this year."

Last year the Newton boys finished in 21st place but could only manage 25th place this time around.

Despite the boys squad dropping four spots at state, Robinson likes the effort put forth by his team.

"I was pleased with the overall effort of our team and pleasantly surprised with the results of our boys team," he said.

In his senior year, Menefee set a new personal record running the Aubrae Gunderson Invitational in 17:47.72.

At state, he finished 120th out of 215 runners in 18:13.15.

Also running for the boys, with their best times, were Bradley Johnston (19:14.00), Dominique Destafano (18:51.00), Tyler Ransom (18:28.50), Jamal Green (19:05.90), Jason Moffitt (19:08.37) and Matt Knight (19:31.32).

"Bradley Johnston has been a constant surprise in his ability to improve. He started last year as a 22 minute 5k runner and has worked his way down to an 18 minute 5k runner," Robinson said. "A drastic improvement and an essential part of the team."

For the girls, Armstead posted a season beat time of 21:30.80 at the Gunderson Invitational while Childress peaked at the right moment getting her season best at the region meet with a time of 30 minutes.

As for next year, all Robinson can do is hope people gain interest after making it to state for the fifth straight time.

"Next season is always a bit of a mystery," he said. "I hope our successes will draw more runners out to participate."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.