Griffins have solid finish at state meet

Fairfield’s Cross Country future looks bright with two solid finishes and two teams of only underclassmen. | Photos: Shannon Clack Woodard

COLUMBIA – History was made for the Fairfield Central High School Cross Country program this year as both the boys and girls team competed in the AA state meet. This season was the girls team’s first to qualify to compete as a team for state. Both teams claimed the Region 4-2A titles earlier this season, also a first for the girls squad.

Fairfield’s boys finished eighth out of the 16 teams that qualified for the meet, four spots better than their 2021 finish. Greer Middle College claimed the first place title for the boys.

“Boys ran their best team time and placed 8th,” Griffin head coach Ediberto Vergara Cristanto wrote on Facebook following the meet. “Top ten is no easy feat and this group understood the message and delivered! Second best finish by our program at state!”

Hank White again claimed the top spot for Fairfield runners. He finished 24th overall with an 18:06.59 time, besting his 2021 time of 19:27.98 finish by over a minute. Rylan Woodard also took over a minute off of his 2021 finish. He crossed the line at 18:44.76 for 43rd place overall this year (last year he finished at 19:56.34).

Three of Fairfield’s male runners had season best times during the state meet. Sidney Wilson finished third for Fairfield with a season best 19:37.93 for 59th place of 111 runners. Parker Douglas also hit his season best with a 19:49.88 time. Krishi Patel came in fifth for Fairfield at 20:49.56, and Chaze Hemphill had a season best 21:21.42.

Perhaps the greatest Cinderella story is Fairfield’s girls team, who went from a 13th place finish at qualifiers last season, not making the cut for state, to a 5th place finish at qualifiers this year and an 11th place finish at State. Four of the 2021 Griffin female runners returned to compete in the 2022 state meet.

“They ran like they had made it to the Championship plenty of times,” Cristanto wrote, “and the hard work paid off!”

Cristanto, pictured center, with the program’s first girls team to make State.

Judeah Warren had the Griffins’ fastest time at 22:21.28 for 28th place out of 114 runners. Kensley Green placed 40th at 23:10.58. Teairra McDuffie finished at 24:15.10; Kendis Green cross the line at 25:26.03, and Justice Warren rounded out the Griffin top five at 25:28.97. Jamie Downs (26:20.53) and Maiya Sloss (27:20.90) also competed in the meet.

Earlier this season Coach Cristanto was named the Region 4-2A Coach of the Year. White and Judeah Warren both claimed the All-Region 1st Overall titles. Douglas, Woodard, Wilson, Patel, Kensley Green and McDuffie .

It’s safe to say Fairfield’s Cross Country program is on the move, and both Griffin teams are packed with underclassmen.

Woodard, a junior, is the Griffin boys’ oldest runner. White and Douglas are sophomores; Wilson, Patel and Hemphill are freshmen.

Juniors McDuffie and Kendis Green are the Griffin girls’ oldest runners. Kensley Green is the team’s sole sophomore. Downs and Sloss are freshmen; Judeah Warren and Justice Warren are both in eighth grade.

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