United Way cross country invitational focused on scores and community service

After a year off because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Catawba County United Way Cross Country Invitational was back on Oct. 13 with 33 teams from throughout the region, lining up and ready to compete.

The 28th annual event was again held at Southside Park in Newton where more than 600 runners competed in five different race categories.

Team winners included: T.C. Roberson – boys 3A/4A championship, Providence Day School – girls 3A/4A championship, Lincoln Charter – boys 1A/2A invitational, Providence Day School – girls 1A/2A invitational, T.C. Roberson for the boys developmental race and Fred T. Foard for the girls developmental race.

Grant Parham from Bandys High lead local schools from Catawba County, finishing 1st in the boys invitational race.

Full results can be found at nc.milesplit.com.

While there were many great times posted during the races, what makes this competition unique is that it’s also a community service, project-oriented event. The focus is on but not limited to improving literacy among youth. Each team completes a service project prior to the invitational.

Past examples of projects included: organizing book drives for feeder elementary schools or setting up Zoom readings with a class of younger students or hosting a clean-up day in a team’s community.  

tc roberson
2021 Community Service Award winner - T.C. Roberson

This year’s community service project winner was T.C. Roberson. The team donated children’s books to their district’s Progressive Education Program. They then worked in teams to add sensory elements like pipe cleaners, rope, balloons and sandpaper to the books for students with physical or intellectual disabilities.

Every year the Invitational also has a theme and this year it was, “A State of Mind,” with Our State magazine editor Elizabeth Hudson as the guest speaker. 

Going along with the focus or literacy for the service projects, Hudson took time to visit and read to students at South Newton Elementary prior to the race.

The Catawba County United Way would like to thank all the volunteers who helped make the event a success, including volunteer event coordinator John Hall and all the event sponors: Century Furniture, Guy M. Turner, Inc., CT Management, Hickory Metro Sports, Rotary Club of Hickory, Sharp Business, A Signco, Publix, David Hamilton, Frye Regional Medical Center, Premiere Screen Printing, City of Newton Recreation Ctr., Big Kahuna Timing, Drum and Willis Reynolds Funeral Home and Pepsi Cola.

Top three individual winners in each race:

Championship Boys: 1st Landon Roemer – Providence Day School (16:51.04); 2nd Eli Julian – South Rowan (17:01.95); 3rd Keagan Saft – West Henderson (17:02.53).

Boys Invitational: 1st Grant Parham – Bandys (17:07.46); 2nd Van Robbins – R-S Central (17:39.50); 3rd Blake Nicholson – Christ the King (17:44.19).

Championship Girls: 1st Blane McElroy – Providence Day School (19:20.13); 2nd Breanna Budzinski (19:20.42); 3rd Tate Arrington – Providence Day School (19:36.44).

Girls Invitational: 1st Nicole Alfers – Christ the King (20:46.61); 2nd Paige Oldenburg – Bandys (20:58.10); 3rd Meah Walsh – East Burke (21:11.30).

Boys Developmental Race: 1st Nicolas Gibson – T.C. Roberson (19:20.35); 2nd Isaac Valk – T.C. Roberson (20:00.43); 3rd Joe Rath – T.C. Roberson (20:02.83).

Girls Developmental Race: 1st Marina Mace – East Rutherford (25:23.85); 2nd Riley Vogel – Fred T. Foard (25:45.24); 3rd Noelle Wilson – East Rutherford (26:35.40).

To learn more about the Catawba County United Way and its mission to help improve the lives of those in need, visit ccunitedway.com or call 828-327-6851.