#17 Wake Forest
Last season Wake Forest was 6 points out of returning to the NCHSAA State Championships. They took 5th place at the 4A Mideast region and luckily only lose Casey Turro from their top 7. They'll be lead by Erin Spreen who didn't top her PR of on the XC course last fall, but did PR on the track. Spreen ran 18:15 her freshman year and was 8th overall at the NCHSAA State Championships. Spreen didn't have her best showing at the state meet last season taking 70th overall. She did run 18:58 last season and had a lot of strong showings. Spreen ran 5:15 and 2:23 last outdoor track season, both PRs in each event. This makes me believe that Spreen still has everything it takes to get back down to 18:15 form this season and should still be the top girl for Wake Forest this season and get back into all state contention at the NCHSAA 4A State Championship.
Sydney Quate was the #2 girl for Wake Forest last season and came on really strong at the end of the season. Quate started off running in the high 20s or low 21s and eventually ran a PR of 19:52. She took 19th at the NCHSAA 4A Mideast regional last season rounding out the season as Wake Forest's #2 girl. On the track Quate ran 5:34 and 12:06 which shows that she'll be expected to be in sub 20 form again this track season. Tyler Bland came through at the end of the season for Wake Forest running 20:30 at the regional meet after running in the 21s throughout the whole season. Bland focused on the 800 on the outdoor track running a season best of 2:35.
Natalie Mitchell also came on strong at the end of the season running 20:52 at the regional meet. Mitchell holds track PRs of 5:43 and 2:33 and will return as Wake Forest's #4 girl. Mitchell's PR comes from 2015 where she ran 20:29. She only ran 5 races last season, so it makes me think she wasn't 100% all season. Mary Ward was also a bright spot for Wake Forest on the track this season running 2:31 for the 800. Thought she only running 6:00 for the 1600 she was focused on the 800 during the later stages of the season likely helping out their successful 4x800. Ward was in the top 7 last XC season for Wake Forest, but they'll need more out of her this year than her 21:27 PR. Ward was their 6 last season, but will need to step up in her senior season if she wants to help lead Wake Forest to team success.
Wake Forest will need a few girls to step up and hopefully impact their top 5 and they have a few girls on the fringe in Anna Roman and Chloe Waybright who will both be rising seniors. These girls ran 21:49 and 21:53 respectively last season. Roman had her best outdoor track season yet running PRs of 6:00 and 2:37.6 for 1600 & 800. Waybright has only run XC for Wake Forest previously. Wake Forest slightly lacks depth beyond their top 5 and will need Spreen to be in top form this year. Spreen's freshman year is one of the best years Wake Forest had where they were ranked 12th in the state at the end of the season. 5 girls on their current team were on the team, so they know what it's like to have team success and run at the state championships. They'll be in the 4A East where they are ranked 3rd coming into the season and will be favored to make it back to the state meet this season.