There is little doubt some future state champions crossed the line in each of the N.C. High School Athletic Association cross country Mideast regionals – 4A, 3A and 1A – held at WakeMed Park on Saturday.
There were dominating performances by state powers like the Broughton boys and Green Hope girls in 4A, as well Cardinal Gibbons’ boys’ and girls’ teams in 3A. In 1A, it was one conference that stood tall.
4A Mideast: Broughton’s boys placed five runners in the top 10, scoring 27 points – well ahead of runner-up Apex’s 99. Jeremy Brown (15:28.70) was the winner by 11 seconds over Cary’s Dean Abushouk.
The Caps are going for their fourth straight state title next week.
“I made one move at the two-mile but they were able to stick with me,” Brown said. But Brown said around the 4K mark he saw an old teammate who motivated him to give one last push. “It just got me going.”
Green Hope’s girls (31 points) had five in the top 10 as well to win their seventh straight 4A regional, led by junior Elly Henes’ first-place (17:53.10) finish. The Falcons will try to make it six straight in 4A states.
“It was definitely a good training race (for states). I feel prepared,” Henes said.
The Millbrook (139) and Green Hope (141) boys also qualified for the state meet as did Abushouk, his Cary teammate Matt Thornton, West Johnston’s Kyle Christ and Sanderson’s Dylan Tafel and Jose Rosas.
The Leesville Road girls (74) were runners-up and will be joined in states by Panther Creek (141) and Millbrook (143), which edged Apex by one point. Wake Forest’s Kayla Holder was runner-up and qualified as an individual along with Cary’s Cayla Rodney and Sarah Venable, Broughton’s Ayla Gizlice and Enloe’s Cierra Della Rova.
3A Mideast: Cardinal Gibbons’ boys and girls followed a similar pattern – earn medalist honors, place five in the top 10 and win the regional a spot ahead of Chapel Hill.
On the boys’ side it was Cardinal Gibbons senior David Edwards (15:46.00) edging Western Alamance’s Hunter Gilbert, followed by teammates Connor Lane and J.T. Klimek and Chapel Hill’s Drew Roeber.
“A lot of teams are focused on next week, but one of our big goals is staying focused through every race this year,” Edwards said. “And I think we accomplished that today.”
Freshman Marissa Bishop (18:17.97) burst away from runner-up teammate Sophie Ebihara (18:35.72) for a comfortable victory.
“Right after the two-mile I started to surge,” Bishop said. “It’s all because my team pushes me and we’ve been working so hard for it.”
Gibbons, Chapel Hill and Northern Guilford qualified both of their teams. Cedar Ridge’s boys and Orange’s boys also qualified.
Among the five individual qualifiers for the girls were Union Pines’ Abby Verchick and Cedar Ridge’s Elizabeth Zarzar, while the boys included Lee County’s Dalton Cox, Union Pines’ Reagan Fedowitz and Northwood’s Tristan Cochran.
1A Mideast: The North Central Athletic Conference led the way. The nine-team charter school conference saw Franklin Academy’s girls (68 points) win the title behind the dominance of Hannah Zenker and Research Triangle’s boys win (44 points) with medalist Madison Daniel and four of the top seven.
Zenker (20:03.50) has state title aspirations, though she wasn’t tested on Saturday, winning by 59 seconds in her repeat regional win.
“I’m looking forward to states this year and hopefully there will be a lot of competition there,” Zenker said. “I had a fast first mile, which helps.”
The other girls qualifying teams including Whiteville (95), Raleigh Charter (105) and Princeton (137). The qualifying individuals included Woods Charter’s Jade Ogilvie, Roxboro Community’s Brittany Smith, River Mill Academy’s Jenna Janicki and Voyager Academy’s Lani Foglesong, among others.
Daniel (16:46.60) could help the Raptors – in their second year of NCHSAA competition and with no senior class – capture the school’s first state title.
“We really want to win. We were a little mad about losing by five points last year,” Daniel said.
The other boys qualifying teams were Raleigh Charter (79), Woods Charter (90) and Voyager Academy (92). Individuals included Franklin Academy’s Matthew Pertz and Princeton’s Austin Sullivan, among others.