It was more of the same at the Cap-8 Conference cross country championships at WakeMed Park on Tuesday, where Broughton, Leesville Road and Nevada Mareno kept title streaks going.
Broughton’s boys won their seventh straight conference title and Leesville Road’s girls, led by Mareno, won their third straight. It was the second straight Cap-8 title for Mareno, the defending 4A state champ.
The newcomer to the top of the podium was Leesville’s Nathan Gamble, who won the boys individual race after years of Broughton runners taking first. All teams advance to next weekend’s regionals, where the top four teams and seven remaining individuals will go to the state championship.
Mareno (17:51.73) was 93 seconds ahead of runner-up Savannah Jones of Broughton (19:23.06) and Wake Forest’s Erin Spreen (19:26.75) was third.
She looked as calm as someone walking to class instead of someone who had just ran a 5K, but Mareno is trying to push herself more in the next few weeks.
“I’m definitely way behind where I was last year, and part of it is on purpose because I peaked way too early last year,” Mareno said. “My best race was this race last year. ... But now I think I’ve eased off a little too much, so I’m going to have to start hammering it a little bit, make sure I’m really careful.”
Leesville Road’s 43 points edged Broughton’s 50 while Wake Forest had 75. Sanderson, Heritage, Millbrook, Enloe and Wakefield rounded out the rest. Leesville’s Noor Hasan (fourth), Audrey Hemming (sixth), Hannah Willard (14th) and Malina Pardo (18th) helped bring home a title.
“It’ll be a big deal for the younger girls and team building,” said Mareno, who is down to three schools: N.C. State, Oregon and Stanford. The N.C. State coaches were on hand Tuesday.
The top 14 runners were named all-conference with the first seven – Mareno, Jones, Spreen, Hasan, Maya Celetti (Millbrook), Hemming and Anna Simmons (Broughton) – making first team. The second team was Sanderson’s Lila Peters and Lauren Ammons, Wake Forest’s Casey Turro and Sydney Quate, Broughton’s Emmy Trowell and Hope Hatfield and Leesville’s Willard.
Broughton scored 23 points to top Leesville Road’s 50. Millbrook and Enloe followed with Wake Forest, Sanderson, Wakefield and Heritage rounding out the conference.
The Capitals can be a tough group to run against as they tend to run in a pack, but Gamble (16:08.38), third in the Cap-8 last year, figured out how to work around it.
“I let the Broughton guys push up the hill at around the one-and-a-half (mile point) and then they kind of held off again so I moved to the front,” said Gamble, a senior. “I don’t know if they were going quite all-out in this race because I feel like if they were going all-out they’d be a little more up there.”
Still, Broughton’s depth is still too much. The Caps had five of the top eight runners and, for good measure, eight who made all-conference as part of the top 14: Ryan Brown (second, 16:23.30), Stuart Holmes (third), Lanier Derbyshire (fourth), Jacob Wells (sixth), Andrew Brooks (eighth), John Malach (10th), Will Hopkins (12th) and Jack Rooney (14th).
By contrast, Leesville had three runners in that group: Gamble, Caleb Petty (fifth) and Ian Hixson (seventh). Millbrook’s Nickolas Scudder was 10th, Enloe’s Jared Goldman 11th and Wake Forest’s Jared Goldman 11th.
1. Broughton 23
2. Leesville Road 50
3. Millbrook 86
4. Enloe 95
5. Wake Forest 128
6. Sanderson 160
7. Wakefield 188
8. Heritage 225
1. Leesville Road 43
2. Broughton 50
3. Wake Forest 75
4. Sanderson 105
5. Heritage 129
6. Millbrook 143
7. Enloe 185
8. Wakefield 243