Underclassmen rule at Henlopen Conference cross country championship

Lake Forest’s Josephine Ledford crosses the finish line as CR’s Keely Arndt follows for second place during the girls’ Henlopen Conference cross country championship at Killens Pond State Park. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

FELTON — Underclassmen ruled the day at the Henlopen Conference cross country championships.

Caesar Rodney High junior Blaise Moyer won the boys’ race while Lake Forest High sophomore Josephine Ledford took home the girls’ crown at the conference championship meet hosted at Killens Pond State Park on Saturday afternoon.

Cape Henlopen won the boys’ team championship. The Vikings, who had three runners finish in the top eight, ended up with 45 points – seven points better than second-place CR. It was Cape Henlopen’s first conference championship since 2004.

Smyrna High earned the team championship on the girls’ side. The Eagles have won the team title two of the last three seasons.

Ledford became the first Lake Forest girls’ winner since Danielle Riley in 2007. Riley was a three-time champion of the event and like Ledford, won her first title as a sophomore.

Ledford finished third in the event a year ago as a freshman. She said she’s been able to shave a minute off her time throughout her sophomore season.

Caesar Rodney’s Blaise Moyer races Cape’s Ethan Edery to the finish during the boys’ Henlopen Conference cross country championship at Killens State Park. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“I’ve learned more about strategy which was my main goal for the season,” Ledford said. “Last year was my first year in high school racing so I didn’t really know what I was doing. Experience definitely added to what I knew.”

Caesar Rodney’s Keely Ardnt came in second in the girls’ race. Ledford led at the beginning before Arndt edged in front with close to a half-mile left in the race before Ledford rallied for the victory.

“My main goal was to get out with at least a little bit of a lead and make my move in the last half-mile to maintain my lead,” Ledford said. “That’s pretty much it though. I don’t go in with too much of a plan because I know every race is different.”

Ledford said she’s just trying to enjoy this championship so early in her high school career.

“Honestly it’s a little scary,” Ledford said. “There’s so many people out there who have a lot of potential. I could always lose what I have right now over the years. I’m glad I have it while I can.”

Lake Forest and Caesar Rodney during the start of the boys’ Henlopen Conference cross country championship at Killens Pond State Park. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Both Ledford and Moyer were coming off first-place finishes at the Kent County Championships on Tuesday.

Moyer tried taking the lead of the boys’ race early but was stuck neck-and-neck with eventual second-place finisher Ethan Edery from Cape Henlopen.

Moyer began his charge over the last 40 seconds of the race after his coach Mike Tucci yelled at him to make his move.

“I just heard him scream, ‘Stop playing,’” Moyer said. “I just sprinted from there to the end.”

Moyer is the first CR runner to win the boys’ individual championship since Nate Twining in 2015.

Moyer spent the week battling illness and wasn’t able to get his usual amount of practice in.

“It’s been bothering my chest but it wasn’t at the point where I thought it would affect me greatly,” Moyer said. “I think it did affect me pretty big though. I practiced Monday, raced Tuesday and couldn’t do anything the rest of the week.”

The Caesar Rodney boys and Smyrna girls were also awarded the regular season dual meet championship trophies for the Henlopen Conference Northern Division on Saturday. The Indian River boys and Lake Forest girls collected their dual meet titles for the Southern Division as well.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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