published Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Townsend, Holden pace Baylor sweep

After achieving her first-ever cross country victory Tuesday at Baylor School, Lady Red Raiders senior Ruthie Townsend hugged her boyfriend Simon Holden, posed for a picture with him and said he needed to win his race as well.

No pressure? No problem.

The two continued a Baylor tradition of protecting the home course by sweeping the five-kilometer wins. Townsend covered the course in 20 minutes, 14.8 seconds, and Holden won in 16:26. Both Baylor teams won as well.

Townsend, who has been on the varsity for five seasons, has flirted with a win on numerous occasions. She said Tuesday that she "finally learned how to run.

"There was no way I could have done it without my teammates," she said. "I got into that third mile and told myself that there was no way I was going to give up. I'd done that before, but I've got past those mental blocks, learned to be more confident and not get caught up in the negative self-talk that I couldn't do it."

Baylor's Haley Chandler finished second, just under two seconds behind Townsend. Grace Carlson placed fourth to give the Lady Red Raiders three in the top five. Dalton's Bekah Houston finished thir, and the home school team's Karla Vradenburgh was fifth.

"Each of our girls wants to beat the others, and that's how it should be," Baylor coach Heather Ott said. "Ruthie finally stopped giving up, and I'm so happy she was able to push through and get a win."

Holden seemed to cruise at times and was able to claim a 12-second victory. East Hamilton's Nick McCormick, who raced twice in four days, finished second as in his previous race. Walker Valley's Patrick Shultz was third and Collegedale Academy's Seth Ruhling was fourth.

"It was a hard meet, but it was perfect weather outside," Holden said. "I wanted to break 16 minutes. It's weird running by yourself, but it feels like it goes by just as fast.

"I was happy with the win, though."

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