The N.C. School of Science and Math failed in its bid to win its fourth consecutive boys 2A state cross country title, finishing a distant third in the N.C. High School Athletic Association championship on Saturday at Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex.
The Unicorns have dominated the 2A ranks, winning the state championship in 2013, 2014 and 2015. But NCSSM weren’t the favorites entering this year’s state meet, and when its No. 3 runner had to drop out midway through the race, its fate was sealed.
Senior Lawton Ives was fifth and senior Skanda Sastry 10th for the Unicorns, but they were the only team runners in the top 50 overall. The Unicorns scored 155 points and trailed first-time winner Lake Norman Charter (93 points) and Smoky Mountain (120).
In cross country, seven runners compete for each team, with the top five finishers counting toward the team score. So when Wyeth McKinley, usually the No. 3 runner on the team, fell in the second mile and dropped out, NCSSM had to count on other runners to step up.
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“He’s usually our third, so that really messed with things,” Ives said. “But I’m really proud of my team. They did a great job all year – and just came up a little bit short.
Ives was fifth, behind a terrific stretch battle between winner Noah Graham of Brevard and runner-up Dakota Mendenhall of Forbush.
“I did pretty well, but it’s definitely disappointing to come second as a team. It is what it is. Three in a row, there’s definitely a lot of pressure to add another one. It’s funny, last year after we won, it was a feeling of relief rather than excitement.”
Durham School of the Arts second a year ago, finished seventh, with Carrboro ninth.
DSA finished fourth in the girls event, with Olivia Gregory 19th and Grace Rogers 20th. NCSSM finished seventh and Carrboro 10th.