The Avery Vikings Cross Country Team has had a very successful start to their season this week. The team competed in three meets this past week. On Saturday, Aug. 17, the Vikings traveled to Watauga High for the “Clash of the Clashes” Meet, a 2-mile course against their respective grades in school. Top runners for the Vikings at the event were Josie Naumowich (14:30) placing 13th out of 64 runners, and Ethan Shell (12:50), placing 14th out of 64 runners.

The Vikings then traveled on to McDowell High on Wednesday, Aug. 21, for the NWC Conference kickoff. The runners battled briars, rain and mud on a 2-mile single track course. Top runners were Brook Cheuvront (17:33), Tiffany Brocco (19:49), Ethan Shell (13:08) and Parker Gautier (13:49). Shell finished an impressive 12th place out of 103 runners.

This past Saturday, Aug. 24, the Vikings headed to the WNC CC Carnival at Jackson Park in Hendersonville. The runners battled a wet, muddy, slippery 3.1 mile/5K course. They competed against 48 schools from across the Western region. Top runners were Cheuvront (26:33), Shell (20:19) and Gautier (21:11).

This year at the WNC CC Carnival, a special memorial service award entitled “Riley Howell Service Award” was presented. The race coordinators asked coaches from their teams to nominate a male and female student based on their outstanding acts of service in the spirit of generosity, stewardship and love to others.

The “Riley Howell Service Award” is in honor of former TC Roberson High School cross country runner Riley Howell, whose actions to protect fellow UNC-Charlotte’s classmates cost him his life during a shooting earlier this year.

The Carnival’s race coordinator Andrew Devine said, “Riley reminds us that trophies and titles are not the most valuable acquisitions of cross country competition. Those are for the very few blessed with exceptional talent, determination and good fortune. Available to all who participate are the more important rewards of the virtues enhanced by our sport. The camaraderie of the team teaches athletes to cherish others. The sanctuary of the trails teaches athletes to cherish the natural world. These values were central to Riley’s character and they are the hallmarks of this yearly honor.”

Avery Coach April Cheuvront nominated Viking runners Jeremiah Clark and Lily Perez. Clark serves the Avery and broader community by volunteering in programs such as Meals on Wheels, Caregivers Haven, Gifts of the Heart, Honoring Military Veterans, Yellow Mountain Enterprises, Backpack Ministry, Crossnore cleanup days and countless hours with his church and Scout group.

Perez serves the Avery and broader community by volunteering in such programs as Empty Bowls Project, UNICEF, Kite Fest, Grandfather Children’s Home, Angel Tree, Special Night Dance, Blue Ridge Relay, Child Fest, and HOSA blood drives. Perez has also participated in Mission Trips to El Salvador and Honduras.

Perez, a junior at ACHS, was chosen as this year’s “Riley Howell Service Award.” She was chosen from 50 western NC schools and 15 finalists. The purpose of this award is not only to highlight a student for their service to others but to inspire future acts of service.

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