South Lenoir continues strong cross-country showing

South Lenoir continues strong cross-country showing

South Lenoir's Ian Ireland and Marina Castillo won their races in Wednesday's Eastern Carolina Conference meet. Ireland had a time of 19:46 for the boys' victory while Castillo led all girls with a time of 23:52. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News

South Lenoir has carved out a recent history of cross-country excellence, with Wednesday adding another page.

The Blue Devils took their meet with Greene Central and West Craven handily at the Neuseway Nature Center in the boys and girls races. In the boys’ meet, the first eight finishers came from South Lenoir, led by Ian Ireland, who finished 11 seconds ahead of teammate Bryan Zeagler with a time of 19:46.

Ireland said he feels a level of comfort on his home course, along with strong teammates guiding him.

“Our course is perfectly flat and other than a little water in the back, it’s great,” Ireland said. “Our team also works really hard and everyone gives their all each day.”

The girls’ race saw four of the first five finishers coming from South Lenoir. Marina Castillo led the charge with a time of 23:52, 3:05 ahead of her teammate, Nathalie Ayala.

Castillo echoed Ireland’s thoughts about the course and efforts of the team.

I like that it’s flat, there was a lot of shade and we have a good view around the park,” Castillo said. “As far as the team, we train hard — Coach (Carlos) Dodd is good when it comes to what we need to work on and we do a lot of team-building exercises to get better every day.”

Dodd, who took over the program in 2002, has the Blue Devils looking to extend a pair of streaks in 2018. The girls are looking to win their fourth straight conference title while the boys are pushing toward their sixth.

“Training hard is just something we do,” Dodd said. “It’s nothing special — it’s about getting the kids to believe in the program. When they do that, the running takes care of itself.”


Ian Ireland (SL) 19:46, Bryan Zeagler (SL) 19:57, Vian Villa (SL) 20:19, Ethan Cahoon (SL) 20:21, Eddie Leon (SL) 20:26


Marina Castillo (SL) 23:52, Nathalia Ayala (SL) 26:57, Alyssa Keatts (GC) 27:38, Jennifer Londono (SL) 27:56, Caroline Edwards (SL) 27:57

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