Eastern dominates Scenic Hills Invite

VINCENT – In the sweltering August sun on the cross country trails in Vincent Saturday morning, Laura Pullins and the Eastern Eagles lived up to it.

Behind Pullins’ first place finish – which was more than a half minute ahead of the rest of the field – the Eagles dominated to claim a 36 point victory in the girls field of the Scenic Hills Lions Club invitational while the Marietta Tiger boys edged host Warren by eight points in the standings.

Pullins’ time of 20:30 was 34 seconds better than her teammate Asia Michael as Eastern placed three of the top four runners, four of the top seven and all five of their scorers in the top 12. The first four runners for the Eagles amassed a meager 14 points as Eastern had just 26 as a team.

Pullins’ effort was actually the fastest time turned in by a female runner at the meet since 2008.

The Marietta and Warren girls tied with 62 points, but the Tigers won the tiebreaker. Overall, Marietta had seven runners within 10 places of each other, which carried them to a strong finish despite only having Olivia Wesel finish in the top 10.

Magnolia’s 102 was good for fourth and River Valley (113) was fifth.

That pack was enough to get the tiebreak on Warren, which had exemplary performances from seniors Hannah Dugan and Sydney Brague.

Dugan was the only runner to split up the Eastern girls at the top of the pack, finishing third in 21:38. Brague, daughter of cross country coach Neil Brague, finished sixth in 22:43 while Kaylee Pate was ninth.

Getting three runners in the top 10 wasn’t sufficient in the team standings, however, as Warren’s final pair of scorers came in at 25th and 28th.

“I’m really proud of the boys and the girls,” Neil Brague said. “Everybody – for the most part – improved.”

As well as Eastern ran in the girls race, Warren senior Sam Goodman was nearly as dominating in the boys field despite battling an injury that kept him out of last week’s Broughton Invitational.

Goodman turned in a time of 16:53, nearly 20 seconds better than Belpre runner-up Cray Sistrunk, who finished in 17:12 with teammate Kyle Windland in third.

The strong performance by Goodman marked the third time in four years that a Warrior has claimed the boys individual title.

“It went overall well,” Goodman said of his race. “I’ve been sick the past few days, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to do.”

The Warren boys had several runners in the top of the pack, but despite the win by Goodman and a fourth place finish from Brent Ash, the Warriors couldn’t overcome the tight pack put together by Marietta.

Warren had three runners in the top 11 and all five scorers in the top 25 but were narrowly edged out of defending their team title by eight points as Marietta had five runners in the top 15, led by Jake Haught in sixth and Scott Morris in seventh.

Marietta’s pack of runners were enough to give the Tigers a 38-46 victory over Warren. River Valley was third with 66 points while Meadowbrook (106) and Southern (118) followed.