The Great American Cross Country Festival’s 2,500-runner field can swallow up talented participants, but Green Hope’s girls managed to collect individual and team medals Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The girls’ elite race was the New Balance Race of Champions, and the Falcons placed third in the team competition for the second straight year and boasted a third-place individual finish by junior Elly Henes. Her time was a personal record 17 minutes, 35 seconds over the 5,000-meter course.
“My goal (individually) was to finish in the top three, so I’m pretty happy with it,” Henes said. “We were expecting around third as a team. To be able to place third, we are feeling really confident.”
The team finish was the best among Triangle schools’ boys’ and girls’ squads.
Henes’ bronze medal was topped among Triangle runners only by a 17:22 from runner-up Ryen Frazier, although the Ravenscroft student is not competing for her high school team this year.
“I’m happy because two weeks ago I didn’t run a smart race here,” Frazier said of a 17:37 in an open college meet, the Wolfpack Invite.
The Race of Champions winner was Libby Davidson of Lynchburg (Va.) E.C. Glass, who ran away from the field at 17:07.
Henes improved one minute from last year’s 10th-place finish in the Great American Festival.
“My workouts have been better,” she said of her increased strength. “I’m feeling better and my times are improving.”
Henes was one of four Green Hope girls to accomplish a personal record among the five who count in team scoring. Junior Katie Tomasi was 33rd, 18:41; junior Morgan Adams, 35th, 18:45; and senior Elisa Sargent, 43rd, 18:56. Senior Theresa Enright was the fifth Falcon with 19:02 for 54th.
“It’s a very good finish against some very good teams,” Green Hope girls’ coach Roger Collins said. “Our race didn’t work out the way we wanted, but our kids were resilient and stayed focused. We took some confidence from this, but we also took some things we need to work on to prepare for the state meet and the Nike national meet.”
Three other Triangle girls recording strong finishes were Durham Academy’s Eliza Dekker, 12th, 18:11; Millbrook’s Emily Pettis, 36th, 18:45; and Cary Academy’s Sarah Bodmer, 41st, 18:53.
In the boys’ New Balance Race of Champions, Andrew Hunter of Purcelleville (Va.) Loudoun Valley ran 14:46 over the 5K distance that was just 3 seconds off the course record. The Triangle’s top boys’ finisher was Cary Academy freshman Coleman Mitchell in 37th with a 16:01.
Green Hope’s success included medals from lower division races.
The Falcons won the girls Seeded Invitational. They were led, in order, by Sarah Taylor, Emily Jordan, Martina Savage, Sheridan Wood and Samantha Kolor.
The Green Hope boys won the Red Invitational with Henry Pehr leading the way. He was followed by Brian Huitt, Michael Dudash, Nick Villeux and junior Michael Kolor.