Green Hope reached uncharted waters last season when the Falcons won a state record sixth consecutive N.C. High School Athletic Association championship.
The dynasty looks as strong as ever.
Ranked No. 1 in the state by NCrunners.com, Green Hope also returns the school’s first individual champion Elly Henes. Henes, the daughter of N.C. State women’s cross country coach Laurie Henes, won by almost 11 seconds en route to the 4A title.
NCrunners’ ranked teams
1. Green Hope: Seniors keep the Falcons on top of the state. Seniors Morgan Adams, Katie Tomasi, Kayla Hall, Sheridan Wood and Marina Savage join juniors Emily Jordan, Sarah Taylor and Samantha Kolor to give the team unmatched depth. The top seven runners last season were in the state’s top 26.
2. Chapel Hill: The Tigers are the top-ranked NCHSAA 3A team after bringing back sophomore Katherine Dokholyan (11th), junior Clare McNamara (12th) and senior Marija Crook (13th). Regan Roeber, Anna Passannante, Madi Marvin and Maeve Gualtier-Reed give Chapel Hill a shot at adding to its nine state championship trophies.
3. Cardinal Gibbons: Gibbons had won five straight 3A titles but will have to topple Green Hope for the 4A one this year. Three-time state runner-up Sophie Ebihara is back as a senior, joined by sophomore Marissa Bishop (fifth in 3A), junior Annie Pierce (ninth), senior Abby Doyle (26th) and Alina Rovnak. Coach Nick Mangum adds: “We do have a very gifted group of rising ninth-graders, and I expect that some of them will find their way into the varsity group this season.”
4. Leesville Road: The Pride is a dangerous team, with Nevada Mareno (fourth in 4A) leading the way for a group that finished fourth last year and returns the entire top seven. Emily Pettis (24th) transfers from Millbrook to join other top runners like G’Jasmyne Butler, Taylor Hemming (34th), Noor Hasan (35th) and Audrey Hemming.
11. Broughton: Savannah Jones is the top returner for the Capitals, who didn’t make it to state last year but return five of their top seven, including Margaret Chapman.
13. Cary Academy: Junior Sarah Bodmer returns as the NCISAA 3A champion. She’ll be joined by classmate Emily Lane (fifth) and freshman Grace Goetz (ninth) as they aim for the team title this year. Cary Academy was runner-up to Charlotte’s Providence Day 70-78.
15. Apex: At the 2014 Southwest Wake Athletic Conference meet, the Cougars placed six runners from 14th to 25th place. Of those six, senior Allison Rosen, sophomore Jenna Stevens, senior Cara Gaudioso, senior Elie Rivera and junior Cassidy Devenouges return.
19. Panther Creek: The Catamounts return senior Bridgette Sullivan, who ended last year on a tear. Sullivan was 19th at the 4A meet. The Catamounts were sixth as a team thanks in part to returnees like sophomore Sierra Foster, junior Amy Greengrass, sophomore Lydia Connor and senior Rachel Hill.
21. East Chapel Hill: Their PAC-6 Conference title streak is now in jeopardy with Gibbons’ arrival, but conference champ Lilly Price, junior Maddie Fowler, senior Corey Pahel-Short and Anne McDonald should get the Wildcats back to states.
24. Middle Creek: Coached by former Cary runner Mohammed Abushouk, the Mustangs bring back everyone: sophomore Lauren Copperthwaite, junior Elle Holliday, senior Laura Perron and juniors Katie Loughlin, Maggie Loughlin, Allison Swagert and Jillian Carter.
27. Sanderson: Spartans will be solid with top two runners Elizabeth McSoley and Lauren Ammonds.
28. Millbrook: Maya Celetti and Racehl Navarro each broke the 20-minute mark for the Wildcats (eighth in 4A).
Other teams to watch
Cary: The Imps will be led by senior Sarah Venable. Senior Liesl Schleusener, junior Sophia Uthe and sophomore Elizabeth Dunphy also return.
Carrboro: The 2A powerhouse is rebuilding this year after losing No. 1 and 2 in the state. Amanda Hickey (fifth in 2A) or Natalie Richardson (12th) could keep the individual title with the Jaguars.
Corinth Holders: The reigning Two Rivers 3A Conference champion Pirates are led by seniors Kayla St. Marie (21st in 3A) and Cameron Rutherford (conference champ).
Durham School of the Arts: The Bulldogs will rank high in NCHSAA 2A. Destiny Stevons (15th) is the top returner.
Ravenscroft: Senior Maddy Ringenbach will be in the mix for the NCISAA 3A individual title, where she was runner-up last year. As a team, the Ravens were third. Sophomore Bella Church (18th) also returns.
West Johnston: Greater Neuse River Conference champs graduated four of top seven, but the three underclassmen were top-14 in the league.
Elliott Warnock contributed.
Individuals to watch
Caitlin Bell, Rolesville
Greater Neuse 3rd place
Aleena Cruz, Knightdale
Greater Neuse champ
Rebecca Davis, Knightdale
Greater Neuse 2nd place
Anna Gessner, Trinity Academy Raleigh
6th in NCISAA 1A
Jordan Greenert, N.C. Science & Math
20th in NCHSAA 2A
Jordan Kerns, Western Harnett
Two Rivers 3A 3rd place
Kayla Holder, Wake Forest
17th in NCHSAA 4A
Jade Ogilvie, Woods Chrtr.
Brooke Robinson, North Raleigh Christian
22nd in NCISAA 3A
Allison Stogner, Cary Chr.
19th in NCISAA 2A
Aubrey Wilder, Lee County
Cape Fear Valley 2nd place
Lillian York, St. David’s
8th in NCISAA 2A
Hannah Zenker, Franklin Academy
5th in NCHSAA 1A