Strong finish to a strong season

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cumberland County High School senior Hunter Cochran and junior Justin Stimpson recently created a fitting conclusion to an impressive 2017 campaign for the Dukes’ cross country program.

Both boys competed in the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 1 state cross country championships held in The Plains on Nov. 11. They reached that level of competition after qualifying for it during the regional meet where they became All-Region 1B performers.

At the state meet, Cochran finished 20th out of 99 runners in the boys 5,000-meter run, finishing in 17 minutes, 50 seconds. Stimpson finished 33rd with a time of 18:28.

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“They performed really well,” Cumberland Head Cross Country Coach Allan Waechter said. “Hunter has really came up, especially in this (championship) season, so every race he’s really just been getting better. So, I’m glad (he was) finally able to put together his fastest race time of his whole cross country career right there (in) the state championship.”

Both Cochran and Stimpson were competing in the state championships for the third time.

Looking back on the 2017 season, Waechter was largely pleased.

“I would say things went pretty well,” he said. “We didn’t quite accomplish the goal of taking the whole team to the state meet for the boys’ side, but we still came first in the district, came fifth in the region in a very tight team race. Third place was off by about 10 points, which is what we needed to get to the state championship. And I was still able to take two guys, which I’m very happy about that.”

“And as far as our girls team goes,” he continued, “I had no idea we were going to be able to place third exactly in our district, and we still placed sixth in our region.”

He praised senior Kaylyn Sparkman for coming on strong and improving during the postseason in particular.

Waechter was also happy to be named district boys Coach of the Year.

“It was just great to see those boys’ hard work finally pay off, because we kind of had some ups and downs during the season, and it all came together at that district meet, and it was actually my first year head coaching, so yeah, it meant a lot for that to actually happen,” he said.