Team titles are no longer enough for the Green Hope girls’ and Broughton boys’ cross country dynasties.
They are doubling up as both schools collected individual gold along with lengthening their team title streaks at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state championships Saturday afternoon at Ivy M. Redmon Park.
At Green Hope, junior Elly Henes claimed her school’s first individual gold medal while she led the Falcons to their sixth straight team title. Six established a state record as the Falcons broke a tie with other schools that have won five straight.
Broughton junior Jeremy Brown led the Capitals to their fourth consecutive team title. Broughton has had individual champions in the past, but this marked the first time the Capitals doubled up in the same year.
“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Broughton coach David Christian of his Capitals and the Falcons. “Congratulations to Green Hope. I know their girls and our boys work hard.”
In addition to the championship teams, several Triangle runners contributed to a medal haul from the area despite the muddy and cold conditions. The mud was from heavy overnight rain; the temperature was 48 degrees chilled by 17-mph wind.
“The mud was the worst,” Henes said. “It was slippery and sliding; the wind was a battle all the way around.”
But Henes’ footing was sure over the final three-quarters of a mile when she pulled away from what had been a back-and-forth race with Watauga’s Kathleen Mansure. Henes won by 11 seconds with a time of 18:02 over the 5,000-meter course.
“She followed her strategy, but it wasn’t just strategy,” said Green Hope girls coach Roger Collins. “At some point you throw out the athleticism and it’s about guts. She’s all guts and heart.”
Green Hope’s depth was so strong the Falcons had seven runners among the top 26 individuals, even though only the top five score.
Junior Katie Tomasi finished 10th, senior Theresa Enright 13th, senior Elisa Sargent 14th and junior Morgan Adams 21st. With a 38-point win over second-place Charlotte’s Myers Park, Green Hope could have substituted its sixth girl, sophomore Emily Fitzgerald at 23rd, for Henes and still won the team title. The same is true with its seventh girl, junior Kayla Ward at 26th.
“It was a dominating performance,” said Mike Miragliuolo, Green Hope’s head coach of the boys and girls programs. “You never know what can happen in these kinds of elements. We’re very pleased.”
Also finishing in the Top 10 were Leesville Road’s Nevada Moreno in fourth (18:25) and Panther Creek’s Rebekah Greengrass in sixth (18:34).
Brown’s win was considered a mild upset (the favorite was South View’s Philip Hall), but he made it a convincing one. His time of 15:50 over 5,000 meters won by 13 seconds.
“It’s also a huge accomplishment to win the team title,” Brown said. “I’m proud of my guys for how they performed. Week in and week out, they work as hard as I do.”
Also scoring for the Capitals were senior Will Sandin, 10th; junior Robert Simmons, 11th; senior Peter Millsaps, 15th and freshman Ryan Brown, 25th.
Brown was pushed by two other Triangle runners as West Johnston senior Kyle Christ was second in 16:03 and Cary senior Dean Abushouk in fifth in 16:13.
In the 1A boys race, Research Triangle finished second in the team standings. The Raptors’ best finish was from Madison Daniel in 11th at 17:35.
In the 1A girls race, Franklin Academy’s Hannah Zenker was fifth in 20:45.