KERNERSVILLE — At the start of the cross country season, teams and individuals alike set their goals, which they hope will be achieved at the N.C. High School Athletic Association cross country championships at Beeson Park.
In the 4A classification, the Triangle did a good job of just that. Wake County swept 4A team and individual titles, with each winning player executing their game plan to make their dreams reality.
• Cary’s Bakri Abushouk put his past problems, and his opponents, in the rear view during a dominating wire-to-wire win
• Broughton’s boys were patient as Abushouk built his insurmountable lead, and the result was their fourth 4A title in the last five years.
• Green Hope’s girls muscled through a middle of the field where it counted to win their fourth straight 4A championship.
• Broughton’s Megan Sullivan used what she’s best at to pull away from the pack for her individual win.
Boys’ race belongs to Bakri, Broughton
In his previous two years, Abushouk has been snake-bitten in the state championship. He’s had injuries and watched a late lead slip away.
His mindset was changed this year. Aiming for time under 15 minutes, he started fast and stayed fast. Abushouk was all alone for almost the entire race.
Though his pace slowed over the final mile, the N.C. State recruit still finished in 15 minutes, 13 seconds, shattering the course record by 14 seconds.
“It was motivation,” Abushouk said of his previous tough breaks. “That’s why in the summer I was running every day to get better and better and to become a state champion.”
Abushouk led by as many as 30 seconds in some stretches, though he ended with a 15-second edge on the next-best competitor.
The senior’s high school cross country career is done, but he still has regional and national competitions left.
“I’ve still got three more goals – make nationals, break 15 minutes and place high at nationals,” Abushouk said.
Broughton’s boys’ were confident when trying for their second 4A title in as many seasons. And they had reason to be.
Broughton placed three runners – junior Will Roberson (3rd), junior Asher Smith-Rose (8th), freshman Jeremy Brown (9th) – in the top 10 while Jon Dalton-Roher and Allen Lawrence were 11th and 20th. The Captials’ 41 points were well in front of runner-up Cary (111) and fourth-place Millbrook.
“This is what we’ve been working towards. The state championship is the program’s focus and all the training, all the work has been geared toward this,” said Broughton coach Dave Christian. “All the credit goes to the kids. They were the ones that got their morning runs in, that hammered through the workouts. I tried to guide them the best I can, and sometimes it works out, and today it did.”
East Chapel Hill’s Ryan Brady made it five Triangle runners on the 4A all-state boys’ list, finishing seventh overall.
“Everybody else was the target,” Christian said. “Let it be ‘the Bakri show,’ and we’ll just try to clean up the team title.”
Sullivan’s first and Green Hope’s fourth
Sullivan, a junior, is Broughton’s school record-holder in the 800-meter dash in track and field. That expertise came in handy as she broke away down the stretch to distance herself from a pack of about 10 runners that had stayed together for two-thirds of the race.
She finished in 17:48, besting East Chapel Hill’s Pega Kamrani (17:51) and third-place Maura McDonnell of Green Hope (17:56). Panther Creek sophomore Rebekah Greengrass finished fifth.
“After we got to the two-mile, it started to separate a little bit. Pega went, and I followed her. She had the lead on me until the last 1,000 (meters) maybe, and I wanted to go,” Sullivan said.
Green Hope captured its fourth consecutive state title by amassing 83 points to runner-up Charlotte Providence’s 101. Broughton was third with 128. The Falcons were younger and not as strong at the front as they have been in recent years, but they still got their first five runners across the finish line first.
After McDonnell finished, junior Kristen Lospinoso took 18th, freshman Kayla Hall was 26th, senior Allie Worsdale finished 33rd and sophomore Theresa Enright was 35th.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps