Williams High’s Ryan Motondo is state champion in cross country
Two Alamance County teenagers brought home wins this past weekend when they came in first and tenth in the state’s cross-country championship.
The competition, held in Kernersville on Saturday, was split into four divisions, with locals Ryan Motondo, 16, and Daniel King, 17, placing first and tenth, respectively, in the 3A division, which featured 97 male competitors.
During Saturday’s 3.1-mile race, Motondo, a junior at Williams High School, came in at 15 minutes and 44.93 seconds. King, a senior at Southern High School, had a time of 16 minutes and 26.23 seconds.
Motondo’s coach, Brian Smith, told The Alamance News this week that the excitement following the championship win “has been wild.”
“Things like that don’t just happen every week here,” he added. In fact, the last championship winner to come from the high school was in 2010.
Smith commended Motondo’s diligence in training even as the local onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 threw a curve for students and athletes alike. The longer training hours that the 16-year-old took on in the following months gave him the advantage in the recent competition, the coach explained.
“The dedication and the drive to [be committed] is hard to get installed in everybody,” he said. “It’s good to see somebody that puts in a lot of work when no one’s watching come out and be successful. [Motondo] has a lot of those work ethics that are hard to teach.”
Motondo, for his part, told the newspaper that placing first “feels amazing.”
“All that work since March paid off,” he added.
After first taking up cross-country along with soccer in his freshman year, the junior said that he devoted his attention fully to running after feeling that the sport could “get him somewhere” in the long-term. While he says he’s still considering several colleges, where he plans to continue the sport, Motondo is leaning toward either athletic training or sports management as a major.
In addition to running, he continues to play soccer recreationally and enjoys taking bike rides.
Ryan is the son of Frank and Katie Motondo of Burlington.
King’s mother, Sharon, said that she was “very excited” over her son’s 10th place win this past weekend.
“We never know exactly how each race is going to run,” she elaborated.
The mother was grateful to the community of runners and coaches whom she said had been “very supportive.”
“We are not a running family,” she told the newspaper. “[Daniel] has taken it as his own.”
After starting cross-country four years ago to get in shape, King said that he “fell in love with it.”
The 17-year-old spent part of this past season overcoming tendonitis in his knee, spending two weeks recovering and returning a month before regional competitions began.
“I didn’t really worry about [the injury],” he explained in an interview with the newspaper, recounting the championship last weekend. “I just did the work to recover well.”
The senior now looks ahead to college, with plans to attend Elon University in the fall and continue his cross-country career while studying biology.
Looking over his high school experience with Southern’s cross-country team, he says, “Making the relationships with my teammates and seeing them improve over the years has been inspirational.”
Daniel is the son of Marcus and Sharon King of Burlington.