Braxton Edwards crosses the finish line at Saturday's state cross country meet in Kernersvville (photo courtesy Jeff Sides/

Polk County junior Braxton Edwards got his first taste of state cross country competition on Saturday, taking part in the NCHSAA 1A State Championships in Kernersville.

Edwards posted a time of 20:16.69 on the course at Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville, earning 71st place. He was the only Polk County runner to qualify for the state meet.

Due to restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic, the race was held in two heats, with Edwards part of the second heat of the day.

Franklin Academy senior Aaron Rovnak ran away in the first heat to claim his second straight state title, posting a time of 16:47.65. Rovnak’s time was 21 seconds better than that of Corvian Community School’s Jacob Fiorillo, who placed second.

Lincoln Charter won the boys team title for the third straight year, placing five runners in the top 20. Community School of Davidson placed second, followed by Murphy, Bishop McGuinness and South Stanly.

Highland Tech’s Lauren Tolbert won the 1A girls state title with a time of 19:15.05, edging Riverside’s Briley Bickerstaff by less than two seconds.

Thomas Jefferson nipped Pine Lake Prep to win the 1A team championship, with Research Triangle, Gray Stone Day and Community School of Davidson rounding out the top five.