Joan Nesbit Mabe is new Chapel Hill High cross country coach

tstevens@newsobserver.comAugust 9, 2013 

Joan Nesbit Mabe, a former U.S. Olympic runner and two-time national champion, is the new boys and girls cross country coach at Chapel Hill High.

Mabe, 51, competed in the 10,000 meters in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and won national titles in 1995 in cross country and in 1996 in the indoor 3,000 meters. She also was an All-American runner in cross country, track and field and indoor track at the University of North Carolina.

She has 30 years of coaching experience with professional, collegiate, high school and youth runners. She ran professionally with the New Balance team.

She succeeds Ron Olsen, who retired this spring after more than 40 years of coaching.

Olsen’s teams won nine N.C. High Athletic Association championships during his tenure at Chapel Hill High.

Kevin Swain, Olsen’s assistant for the past four years, is the Tigers’ new track and field coach.

The school has a strong cross country and track and field history. The Tigers have won 18 NCHSAA cross country titles and two NCHSAA track and field championships.

Spain retires: Jack Spain, the dean of Wake County athletic directors, will retire at the end of the month after 27 years at Broughton High.

“He’s a legend and it’s tough to replace a legend, but it’s a circle of life,” said Broughton principal Stephen Mares. “We’ll find a replacement, but it’s a big loss and there will be a hole that he used to fill.”

Spain came to Broughton in 1986 as a nationally certified athletic trainer and taught physical education classes at the school. He has been instrumental as an administrator for the N.C. High School Athletics Association state championships that are held in Raleigh.

Henry shines: Garner native and West Johnston High graduate Sarah Henry starred in the U.S. Open Swimming Championships in Irvine, Calif. Henry placed in the top five in five individual events and was the only swimmer to advance to five individual finals.

Henry, a senior at Texas A&M, finished second in the 200- and 800-meter freestyles, was third in the 400 individual medley, fourth in the 400 free and fifth in the 200 IM to lead all female swimmers in points.

“It’s a huge honor to win the high point award,” Henry told “I swam a load of events and was really happy with how I did. I just came off the World University Games, which was a seven-day meet in Russia, and to do this well a week later was a huge feat for me. All in all, it has been a great summer, and I’m excited for what the fall brings.”

Green Hope is No. 25: Green Hope’s athletic program ranked No. 25 in the country for 2012-13 by MaxPreps, an on-line high school sports site. The MaxPreps Cup uses a system that awards points for finishing first or second in state playoff competition and for being ranked nationally. There are other criteria, including the size of the state and which sports schools excel in.

Atlanta (Ga.) Westminster won the national title after claiming boys state championships in golf, soccer, track and field, tennis, cross country and lacrosse, and girls titles in soccer, track and field, tennis, lacrosse and swimming. The school was second in baseball, boys swimming, girls cross country and volleyball.

Westminster, a private school, piled up 1,239 total points. Green Hope had 614 points,

Softball commitment: Middle infielder Jessica Pinkney of Leesville Road has committed to Brown University to play softball.

Mellow Mushroom: Middle Creek, Wake Forest, Cardinal Gibbons and Knightdale, all ranked among the area’s top football teams, will scrimmage Saturday night at Wake Forest High in the Mellow Mushroom scrimmages.

The first varsity session is at 6, with Wake Forest facing Cardinal Gibbons and Knightdale playing Panther Creek. At 7, Knightdale plays Cardinal Gibbons and Enloe faces Middle Creek.

The 8 p.m. scrimmages are Wake Forest vs. Middle Creek and Enloe vs. Panther Creek.

Rolesville, which opens this fall, will play a junior varsity schedule this season. It will face Enloe in a junior varsity session at 5 p.m.

TSTEVENS: 919-829-8910

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