CARY — With the 1A, 2A and 4A classifications all running the Mideast cross country regional at WakeMed Park in Cary, there were six races in less than three hours Saturday. A majority of the teams competing in each classification were Triangle teams, so it was only right that the day be dominated by local runners.
Broughton’s boys and Green Hope’s girls won 4A regional titles; Carrboro’s girls and N.C. Science & Math boys won 2A; and Franklin Academy girls and Research Triangle boys claimed titles in 1A.
The Triangle accounted for all six individual champions: Broughton’s Will Roberson (15:23, 4A boys); Broughton’s Megan Sullivan (18:12, 4A girls); Carrboro’s Maysa Araba (18:20, 2A girls); NCSSM’s Nick Walker (16:21, 2A boys); Raleigh Charter’s Chris O’Brien (15:59, 1A boys); and Franklin Academy’s Hannah Zenker (19:45, 1A girls).
In each regional, top-four teams and top-five individuals who were not on those teams qualified for Saturday’s NCHSAA state championships at Beeson Park in Kernersville.
4A Mideast: Roberson made quite the triumphal return from injury.
“I had a strain in my hip and IT band. It wasn’t a terrible injury, but I took some time,” Roberson said. “I was just trying to run in the 15:30s and win it.”
Broughton’s boys – the defending state champs – scored 24 points, easily besting other state qualifying teams: Apex (92), Green Hope (97) and Millbrook (134).
Meanwhile, Sullivan – the defending 4A champ – staved off some of the best competition she had seen all year. To her, running with the temperature in the 30s was also the best weather she had seen.
“I didn’t sweat. My legs were kind of numb, so I wasn’t feeling any pain,” Sullivan said.
However, it was four-time reigning state champ Green Hope (36) who took the title ahead of Broughton (62), Millbrook (104) and Leesville Road (123).
Qualifying individually on the girls’ side was Panther Creek’s Rebekah Greengrass and Bridgette Sullivan; Enloe’s Cierra Della-Rova; West Johnston’s Becca Meshaw; and Sanderson’s Olivia Bane.
On the boys’ side, Cary’s Dean Abushouk and Josh Barrett; Fuquay-Varina’s Parker Lee; West Johnston’s Kyle Christ; and Heritage’s Grant Rogers all qualified.
2A Mideast: N.C. Science & Math boys and the four-time defending state champion Carrboro girls did as expected.
Araba’s fellow Jaguar Helen Morken crossed the finish line 18 seconds before the third-place runner.
“We just tried to pick it up after the two-mile and create some distance,” Araba, a junior, said.
Walker, a Durham native, was 10 seconds ahead of teammate Josh Rees-Jones.
“We were relaxed in the first mile, and I started picking it up at the the top of the hill, and once we got to the first of the rolling hills I started picking up the pace and got a good gap,” Walker said.
NCSSM, Carrboro and Durham School of the Arts will send both boys and girls teams to state, as will the Spivey’s Corner Midway boys and Clinton girls.
1A Mideast: Research Triangle doesn’t have a conference affiliation yet – the Raptors will join the North Central Athletic Conference next year – but it will have a regional title.
Research Triangle had 34 points to top Durham Voyager Academy (48), Raleigh Charter (82) and Franklin Academy (95).
Raleigh Charter’s O’Brien was well ahead of the pack, but knows that will change when he eyes a 1A title next week.
“My first mile was probably my fastest,” O’Brien said.
Franklin Academy’s Zenker, last year’s 1A runner-up, led the Patriots (41) over Raleigh Charter (73), Pittsboro Woods Charer (117) and Whitevile (126).
She was 58 seconds in front of second.
“It’s hard holding your pace at the end, but running with a watch really helps,” Zenker said.
4A Midwest: Durham Jordan was third and East Chapel Hill was fourth in the boys’ race.
3A Mideast: At Hagan Stone Park just south of Greensboro, Cardinal Gibbons’ girls – led by winner Mary Grace Doggett (18:02) – and boys swept team titles with Chapel Hill taking third in boys and second in girls.
Cedar Ridge was runner-up in boys and Northwood was fourth in girls.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps