#13 Durham Academy
Durham Academy has been an extremely underrated and up and coming distance program over the last year. They have a young squad up front and only lose their #3 from last years NCISAA 3A Runner-Up squad. This season they'll be lead by Ethan Goldman who was 5th at the NCISAA 3A XC State Championships last season. Goldman will be the only senior on this team and should be ready to lead this team to a possible NCISAA Team Title this season. Goldman ran 4:29 on the track last season taking 4th at the NCISAA Outdoor State Championships. Goldman ran 16:22 last season and I think he's certainly capable of being a sub 16 runner this season. Goldman was very consistent for Durham Academy last season, and that's what a team needs in a leader.
Mark Alkins and Neil Mosca both return with 16:46 PR from last season as a freshman and sophomore respectively. Alkins is certainly a track guy primarily running 50.69 and 1:57.09 as a freshman, but over his last two seasons he was still excellent on the XC course. In two attempts Alkins has been 14th and 9th at the NCISAA XC State Championships. Even though Alkins has been excellent already on the track I think his potential is unlimited. Mosca made some big improvements this track season running 4:31 and 10:02. Mosca's XC PR actually comes from his freshman year where he ran 16:35. I do think he has a lot more to do in XC and this could be the year he breaks out. Mosca was 11th at the NCISAA 3A State Championships in XC last season.
Jack Anderson had a big outdoor track season last year running 4:34 as a sophomore. Anderson ran 4:55 as a freshman, so that's certainly a massive improvement. Anderson clocked a 17:29 last year in XC and was Durham Academy's #4 man last year. It seems like Anderson has made massive improvements on the track and should close the gap from Durham Academy 3rd to 4th runner. Durham Academy will be looking for a solid 5th man this season which is going to propel them from up these rankings if they can develop one. Last year Mac Hays had a strong freshman year running 17:53 in XC, but he'll need to take things to the next level to be the 5th man they need.
They also had a big year from Nick Epstein on the track who ran 4:34 taking 7th at the NCISAA 3A Outdoor State Championships. Epstein is a rising junior who would be the perfect option to join Durham Academy's top 7. But in the past he has only run track. He's become a very strong runner by just running track and I really hope to see him on the XC course this fall. If they can add him Durham Academy could have a really strong 1 through 5 and would be a team I think could rank inside the top 5 in North Carolina if things go smoothly. Last year they took 2nd by 3 points at the NCISAA 3A State Championships over Providence Day. Their conference rivals Cary Academy took the top spot and also return a strong team this season. Providence Day brings in some big additions to their roster making there no clear favorite for the NCISAA 3A boys XC team title this year. I think Durham Academy has what it takes, especially if they add in Epstein. But we'll have to wait and see if that happens. Regardless, they'll be in contention for a team title this fall.