McKoy, Poitras shine at Chatham Charter’s pre-holiday, tri-team meet

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 12/22/20

SILER CITY — Impromptu? Yes. Slippery? Yes. Ultimately helpful to everyone involved? Also yes.

Given the total unpredictability of the 2020 cross country season, the Chatham Charter, Chatham …

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McKoy, Poitras shine at Chatham Charter’s pre-holiday, tri-team meet

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SILER CITY — Impromptu? Yes. Slippery? Yes. Ultimately helpful to everyone involved? Also yes.

Given the total unpredictability of the 2020 cross country season, the Chatham Charter, Chatham Central and Woods Charter programs were all just thankful to get in another meet.

So on Monday afternoon in Siler City, that’s exactly what the Knights, the Bears and the Wolves did.

Chatham Charter junior Brandon McKoy (18:13) and Woods Charter freshman Ellie Poitras (22:07) finished first in the men’s and women’s five-kilometer races, respectively, while the Knights won the men’s race on team points (35) and the Wolves won the women’s race (15).

And everyone endured the trials and tribulations of Chatham Charter’s campus race course, which, understandably, was still recovering from last week’s torrential downpour of meet-canceling rainstorms.

“I think this was great, even if we did have all the problems with the mud,” said Woods Charter sophomore Wiley Sikes, who finished second in the men’s race. He paused, glanced at his right elbow still caked in gray clay and added with a smile: “I mean, I clearly fell multiple times.”

But that was Monday’s mantra: grind it out.

It took extra importance for Chatham Charter and Woods Charter, who will compete on this very same course in two weeks at the Central Tar Heel 1A Conference championships alongside Research Triangle and Cornerstone Charter. That meet will determine individual and team regional qualifiers.

“Any extra race on this course is going to help a lot,” McKoy said.

He was Chatham Charter’s top men’s finisher, as per usual, but the Knights also got big performances from their other four runners — seniors Clay Griffin and Lane Crowder, junior Caleb Kolb and sophomore Silas Christenbury — beat out Woods Charter on team points, 35 to 42.

Not that the Wolves left empty-handed either. Outside of Sikes and senior Primo Costa (who finished third in the men’s race), Woods Charter racked up some impressive times in the women’s race.

Freshman Poitras finished first, sophomore Maddie Sparrow finished second and the Wolves — coached by Karen Hawkins — seized five of the top seven spots for a clean sweep in the event. (Neither Chatham Charter nor Chatham Central had enough women’s runners to qualify for a team score.)

“The girls today were incredible,” Sikes said, adding that Monday’s meet was “definitely much needed with the COVID-19 environment. Normally, our season would be 10 meets, when now, this is No. 3.”

Chatham Central, which rounded out Monday’s meet of exclusively in-county schools, was in an equally strange situation. The Bears already ran in their Yadkin Valley 1A conference championship meet two weeks ago at South Davidson, where three runners qualified for regionals.

Without Monday’s meet, Chatham Central would’ve been idle for more than a month leading up to that NCHSAA 1A Midwest Regional on Jan. 16. So, head coach Eric Patin was happy to rally his team, whose 2020 regular season was technically over, for one last non-conference event.

“A great group of kids,” he said. “They’re so much fun to work with and coach. I can bring my own kids here and not have to worry about them hearing something they shouldn’t hear.”

It was a fun opportunity for Chatham Central’s seniors, he added, and a reality check for its three regional qualifiers as they enter an extended holiday break where individual training will be crucial.

Senior Parker Crowley (fourth place in men’s), freshman Seth Gilliland (fifth place in men’s) and sophomore Kailey Green (third place in women’s) all had solid races. But Chatham Charter and Woods Charter still comfortably secured the No. 1 and No. 2 spot in both races.

“To see some of this talent outside of your conference, it’s a mental thing,” Patin said. “Coming here and thinking: ‘OK, I’m going to see runners like this at regionals. I need to keep running during break.’”

Conference implications and muddiness aside, the meet was a cheerful one.

Chatham Charter coach Oakley dubbed it the Winter Solstice Challenge, a nod to this Monday indeed being the shortest day of the year along with his own earth science teaching roots. The top three runners in each event got a pair of felt reindeer antlers and a beaded necklace of jingle bells.

Plus, every Chatham Charter, Woods Charter and Chatham Central runner can enter Christmas break with one extra cross country meet under their belt. In 2020, that’s a gift in itself.

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.


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