#18 Mount Tabor
Last year Mount Tabor brought in a star freshman Frances Whitworth who was their top girl throughout the season. Whitworth lead the Spartans to a 4th place finish in the 4A Midwest region as they advanced to the NCHSAA State Championships over East Chapel Hill. Tabor returns everyone from their top 5 only losing their 6th girl Tiara Patterson-Mills. Whitworth's first race was a 20:45, and she was able to get down to 18:54 at the regional meet. Whitworth continued this success on the track 5:15 and 11:44 showing that she has the potential to be the next superstar we see out of Tabor City. Whitworth will return with a lot more experience and a lot more confidence this season which will be huge for the Spartans as a team. She was 32nd at the NCHSAA 4A State Championships last year, and this season in 3A she should certainly be an All-State contender.
Jenna Lineberry was great as a sophomore for the Spartans and continued to succeed in XC as a junior running as their top girl at the NCHSAA State Championships clocking a PR of 19:29. Lineberry was a big part of Tabor's 4x800 state championship squad this fall as well. Lineberry should come in as a leader for the Spartans this fall and should be battling it out up front with Whitworth. In the last two seasons Lineberry has shown great progression throughout the season always running her best at championship meets. I'd expect the same from her this season. Other senior Meredith Roberts continues a comeback from injury after her sophomore year. Roberts ran a 18:50 to kick off her sophomore season, but missed a lot of time after that. She was able to bounce back last year to run 20:35 placing 71st at the NCHSAA State Championships. She was able to run a 1600 PR of 5:41 and also run during the summer with the Greensboro Pacesetters, leading me to believe that she's healthy and ready to have a big senior XC season.
Leah Messenkopf returns as Tabor's #4 girl and has a season''s best from last season of 20:43. Despite running 20:34 on the old shorter McAlpine course in 2015, she was much better in XC throughout the 2016 season breaking 21 three times, all towards the end of the season. Messenkopf was 81st at the NCHSAA 4A State Championships and will return as a reliable top 5 scorer for Tabor.
The only question marks with Tabor for me is their gap back to their 5th runner, and who their 5th girl will be. Stephanie Reichert returns as their 5 with a PR of 21:52, but there are plenty of options to challenge her for that spot. They also have Sarah Wells Luke who ran 20:17 as a sophomore, but only ran 22:44 last season. If they can get Luke back in top form it would be huge for the Spartans. Carly Ponder showed a lot of progression last season running 6:05 for the 1600, 25 seconds faster than her sophomore year. Last year was her first full XC season and she ran 22:33 at the end of the season after starting out at 25:09. It seems like Ponder's switched her focus onto running and if she continues this progression she'll certainly factor into this top 7. Even though they lost a few girls off their 4x800 state championship squad, something like that can motivate a program heading into a long summer. I can see that happening with this Tabor team. They return as the 5th best team in 3A and are in a tough 3A Midwest region that holds two of 3A's best in Weddington and Cuthbertson.