Among the litany of goals Cary’s Bakri Abushouk hopes to accomplish in his running career is to crack the 15-minute mark in a high school cross country race.
The Imps senior will have one final race to do it. Abushouk crushed the field in 15:11 at Saturday’s NCHSAA 4A Mideast Regional at WakeMed Soccer Park, a dominant run that placed him 31 seconds ahead of the field. It’s also a run he hopes to replicate, minus a dozen or so seconds, this upcoming Saturday when he’ll be in the running for his first individual state championship at Kernersville’s Beeson Park.
“Next week, there are not a lot of hills. Here, there’s a lot of hills, and it was windy,” Abushouk said. “I’m going to try for it next week.”
Abushouk shot out of the gate and ran the first mile in a blistering 4:28, the fastest time ever run over the first mile on the course at WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary coach Jerry Dotson said.
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That kind of start, coupled with having someone to run with at the front of the pack, figures to give Abushouk a shot achieving both goals next weekend.
“We were hoping for 14:40. He really wanted to break 15 today,” Dotson said. “We think he’s right on target. He’s got goals, and we’re tying to get him in that rhythm to reach them. ... He’s got a good shot, but you just never know.”
While Abushouk ran away in the individual race, so too did Broughton in the team pursuit.
The Capitals placed five runners in the top 16 and clinched the regional title with 41 points. Cary was second with 90 points. Millbrook, 102, and East Chapel Hill, 124, rounded out the top four teams, which will all advance to the state championships.
“Every race in championship season, you’re going for a win and looking for it to be a step to the next race.
“We feel like this was a good step,” Broughton coach David Christian said. “Part of my job is to make sure they’re ready on the day it matters most, and for our program, that’s the state championship.”
William Roberson paced the Capitals with a second-place finish in 15:42. Asher Smith-Rose (15:54) and John Dalton Rohr (15:55) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Jeremy Brown was 14th in 16:11, and Allen Lawrence rounded out the Caps’ scoring with a 16th-place finish in 16:21.
That quintet emerges from the regional as the favorite for the 4-A state championship, which the Caps have also won the past three years.
“[Christian] makes it clear that’s our priority and we all take that very seriously,” Lawrence said. “We’re definitely ready for the state meet.”
Green Hope’s girls were similarly dominant in their race, placing five runners in the top 13 to claim the regional title with 44 points.
Satisfied with the performance, coach Mike Miragliuolo said Saturday was just a step toward their chase for a fourth straight state championship. Broughton, 56, Millbrook, 113, and East Chapel Hill, 133, will join the Falcons in Kernersville for the state championships as the top four regional place-winners.
Broughton’s Megan Sullivan won the girls’ race in 18:07. Though she finished ahead of the pack, she didn’t get there until the final 400 meters. Sullivan’s strength lies in her kick, a somewhat daring strategy on this particular course because it finishes with a long, uphill grade, which on Saturday had the added element of a steady headwind.
“I like to kick at the end and stay with the pack as long as I can and outkick,” Sullivan said. “It was difficult, but you just have to push through it.”
Individual qualifiers included Panther Creek’s Rebekah Greengrass (fourth, 18:28), Athens Drive’s Elly Henes (seventh, 19:00) and Brianne Boldrin (10th, 19:24), Leesville Road’s Taylor Hemming (14th, 19:32) and Cary’s Cayla Rodney (19:41).