Green Hope earned a sweep of the Southwest Wake Athletic 4A Conference boys and girls cross country titles on Wednesday at WakeMed Park in Cary. It’s the first time the Falcons have swept the titles since 2010.
All teams advance to next weekend’s regionals, which include the Greater Neuse and Cap-8 conferences.
New faces won the conference’s individual titles as Samantha Kolor took the girls’ crown and Apex’s Ben Savino won the boys’ championship.
The Falcons’ boys team won its first title since 2010, though Green Hope has never been too far back during that time. Green Hope placed five runners in the top 10 to run away with this year’s title, ending Apex’s streak at three.
Green Hope’s 33 points were well ahead of runner-up Apex Friendship (78), Apex (87) and Cary (96).
The Falcons were led by Ian Delgado (third), Peyton Barish (fifth), Finn McBride (sixth), Reed Blackman (ninth) and Daniel and Thomas Vo (10th and 11th).
The Cougars did, however, go 1-2 in the individual race with Savino (15:42.79) and David Cart (15:51.00).
“The key was just for me, and David to go 1-2, was just not to go out too fast, just to go out and break the field and get a big lead and hold on,” Savino said.
Runners from Broughton and Leesville Road figure to be Savino’s biggest challenge at regionals.
“I got sick earlier in the season with the flu and that set things back a little ... but it’s good, it gave my legs a week of rest,” Savino said. “But the past weeks (I) have been (training) pretty hard.”
Panther Creek’s Kyle Fawzi was fourth and Apex Friendship’s Wesley Provost seventh and Holly Springs’ Gavin Kinkead eighth.
Green Hope’s Jason Bochert and Apex Friendship’s Rusty Jenkins and Ryan Matthews were co-coaches of the year.
Green Hope’s ninth straight SWAC girls title was no surprise as five of the six top finishers were Falcons: Kolor (18:54.43), Alessandra Rodriguez (third), Kelsey Vogel (fourth), Sarah Taylor (fifth), Catherine Holbrook (sixth).
Emily Jordan (10th) gave the Falcons six of the top 10. Coach Roger Collins was named SWAC coach of the year as Green Hope’s 19 points were well ahead of Panther Creek’s 72 and Apex’s 77.
“Our strategy the entire season was to pack run, but in the races, when it started to get more challenging, we know when to break off and go make our move, which I tried to do today,” said Kolor, a senior.
Kolor, who led the way, said that finishing runner-up at last year’s 4A state championships, which stopped a streak of six titles, motivated the team this year.
“Knowing that we lost by so little ... I think we had the fitness for it, we just didn’t have the good pack-running, teamwork aspect, which we’ve really worked up this year,” Kolor said.
Panther Creek’s Shannon Sefton was runner-up by 10 seconds, Holly Springs’ Caitlyn Morton was seventh, Apex Friendship’s Jade Martin was eighth and Apex’s Calli Parlier was ninth.
1. Green Hope 19
2. Panther Creek 72
3. Apex 77
4. Holly Springs 105
5. Apex Friendship 147
6. Middle Creek 152
7. Cary 186
8. Fuquay-Varina 238
9. Athens Drive 271
1. Green Hope 33
2. Apex Friendship 78
3. Apex 87
4. Cary 96
5. Holly Springs 113
6. Panther Creek 118
7. Middle Creek 190
8. Athens Drive 244
9. Fuquay-Varina 284