LOUISBURG -- Northern Nash's Justin Marshall and Southern Nash's Shamir Small began the race 1-2 -- and that standing never changed during the boys portion of the latest Big East Conference cross country meet.
The event was held last Wednesday at the redesigned layout at Owens Park in Franklin County, with Franklinton serving as the host.
During past Big East meets at Owens Park, the final stretch entailed an uphill struggle on the former No. 10 hole of the Bull Creek Golf Course, which was formerly located there.
The new trek features much less of a finishing challenge on the former No. 18 hole -- just across the road from the old closing line.
Marshall and Small pulled away from the rest of the boys pack early, and it stayed that way the entire race.
Marshall was able to use a strong kick at the finish to gain some distance from Small in order to claim the boys individual crown.
Marshall closed at an impressive 17:20.12 -- just under four seconds ahead of Small.
The next-closest competitor was far behind in the form of Northern Nash's Chance Savage, who took the third spot at 18:09.59.
Northern Nash, coached by legendary skipper Jeff Dodrill, boasted three other Top-10 performers -- Allen Barnes (fifth), Austin Price (sixth) and Kamden Johnson (10th).
Southern Nash's Hunter Issette took the eighth spot at 19:12.72, while Franklinton's best finisher was Qua'Seem Cooper in 26th place at 21:17.50.
Thanks to its five Top-10 efforts, Northern Nash was the runaway team champ at 25 overall points.
Wilson Fike (64) edged rival Wilson Hunt (66) for second place, and Southern Nash was fourth at 72.
Franklinton, which is in rebuilding mode under veteran skipper Clennie Wilkins, was sixth at 171 points.
The girls race also featured at Northern Nash-Southern Nash individual duel as NN sophomore Elana Griffin eventually pulled away from Southern Nash's Jadiza Jimenez for the triumph.
Griffin closed with a strong 21:53.84, with Jimenez finishing in the second position with a time of 23:30.31.
Franklinton boasted a Top-10 performer as Akiah McMillan took eighth place at 25:16.34.
Despite not having a Top-5 finisher, Rocky Mount used its depth to win the girls team title with 41 points.
Fike (69) edged Northern Nash (77) for the second spot, followed by Southern Nash (93), Wilson Hunt (109) and Franklinton (112).
Pictured (Above): RUNNING IN A CROWD. Franklinton High School's Naomi Brazil (right) tries to keep pace for the Lady Rams during last Wednesday afternoon's Big East Conference Cross Country Meet at Owens Park in Louisburg. (Times photos by Geoff Neville)