This race looks to be a big rematch from John Tatter (R.J. Reynolds) and Cameron Ponder (Mt. Tabor). Though Ponder comes in at #4 in the virtual meet at 15:31, he was leading Tatter with 600 meters to go at adidas, but faded pretty hard over the final 400. Tatter has shown he's now the one with a target on his back after running a 15:00 at adidas three weeks ago and will be the favorite heading into tomorrow. Both of these boys have their sites set on Foot Locker Nationals later this fall, so this will be a good test for both to see how close they come to what it typically takes to qualify. Last fall 15:07.70 took 10th place in the South region.
Patrick Spychalski (Wando, SC) looks to also be in contention up front and holds a seasons best of 15:15. Spychalski was 3rd in this event last fall running 15:42. He looks to be in better shape than he was a year ago at this point in the season. Michael Moerk (Mt. Tabor) has been very impressive this year running a 15:28 at adidas a few weeks ago, about 30 seconds faster than he was at that meet last season. Moerk was 7th in 16:02 at Wendy's a year ago, but I expect him to hang up front with the top guys. Wynn Johnson (Dorman, SC) and Andrew Castano (Riverside, SC) are also threats to contend up front tomorrow. They've run 15:46 and 15:44 this season respectively.
Ryan Combs (Chapel Hill) was very impressive last weekend where he took 2nd at Greensboro running a PR of 15:49. Combs pushed the pace last weekend and seems to like going out hard, so this could be a great spot for him to drop another big time. Marshall Williamson (Myers Park) is someone I'm expecting a big day out of after running a PR of 15:51 three weeks ago. Per Ellingson (Etowah), Jamie Witmer (Hoggard), Harper Harris (Riverside, SC) and Dwayne Lillie (A.C. Reynolds) have all broke 16 this fall as well in what should be a loaded field up front.
Riverside boys come in as the favorites, but I believe they'll be missing a few athletes due to SAT testing. If so, we're going to see a NCHSAA 3A State meet preview from Weddington, Chapel Hill and Mount Tabor once again. The three raced at adidas where Weddington came out on top with Tabor taking 2nd. Weddington has had some very impressive 1-5 splits this year with a 16:15 average with a 15 second gap to date. Chapel Hill had an off day at adidas, and proved last week that they were no joke despite missing their 4/5 at Greensboro. Hopefully the Tigers will have a full squad this weekend. Mount Tabor has the best top 2 in the state in Ponder and Moerk. Them winning the team title will fully rely on where their 3/4/5 is at tomorrow. Weddington has the potential to put 5 in front of their competitors 3rd or 4th runner and I think that is going to make them tough to beat tomorrow.