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NEWTON-- One of the largest regular-season cross country events around was held here at Southside Park recently.
A field of more than 1,120 runners from 36 high schools competed in seven different races in the 19th annual United Way Invitational.
The boys' and girls' championships featured runners from 3A and 4A schools, and the invitational fields were for 1A and 2A runners. There were also open races and boys’ and girls’ developmental races for junior varsity runners.
Maiden's Corbin Boyles won the boys' invitational race for cross country runners from smaller classifications in 16 minutes, 28.76 seconds.
One of the more dominating runs of the day was by Brooke Gordon of Asheville T.C. Roberson in the girls' championship. She jumped ahead of the pack in the first half mile and finished in 17:15.34.
In the girls' invitational, Allie Whitley of East Lincoln won in 19:19.23, finishing ahead of Asheville's Anne Worth (19:46.98).
Lenoir-Rhyne University's Katie Griewisch, a two-time NCAA Division II All-American, was the meet's guest speaker. She shared with the runners her experiences as a college runner.
"What we want to do here is give kids a great message about life values," said race coordinator and United Way representative John Hall. "That's what they bring to our community, and hopefully make it better."