The Smyrna Middle School boys and girls cross country teams put together a pretty strong showing at the DAAD Middle School Invitational Oct. 30 as the girls team ran away with the top spot and the boys team finished in fourth place.

The invitational was held at Browns Branch County Park in Harrington.

The 8-0 girls cross country team finished in first place with the help of seven top 20 finishers. The 3-5 boys cross country team placed in fourth place, which is an improvement from last year's 6th place finish.

Head coach James Hewes said the girls team did well this year thanks to the number of returning runners from last year's team.

"There was a lot of improvement and a lot of leadership from the returners for the seventh and eighth graders who didn't run last year," Hewes said.

The Lady Eagles beat out 13 other teams for first place. The boys team competed against 12 other teams.

Hewes said for the boys team, the difference between third place and fourth place was a mere eight points.

"They were really good during the season too. They all improved individually and stepped it up in the tournament," Hewes said. "They had a good showing in the invitational."

Hewes is assisted by coaches Matt Bivins and Stacey Raughley.

Thaddeus Balcerak and Josh Wingfield helped lead the boys team to a fourth place finish with their respective top 10 finishes. Balcerak placed fourth while Wingfield placed second.

"It feels good because last year I finished in 27th place so I really improved," Balcerak said. "I practiced long distance running and kept trying every day."

Wingfield said it feels good to finish in second place. He strived for first place and kept trying to stay with the top runner with the hopes of taking the lead.

"I'm happy and proud Thaddeus and I performed well," he said.

Abby Mace raced to fourth place at the invitational. Mace said her strong finish feels good because she didn't know what to expect in her first year on the team.

Naomi Bowser finished in second place and while she wishes she had taken the top spot, second place still feels good. She's also happy to have helped with the team's success this year.

"It's pretty cool. It means we're the best. We're not just undefeated from the regular season but we did good in the invitational, too," Bowser said.

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