Girls Race Of Champions Preview
Kelsey Chmiel (Saratoga Springs, NY) headlines the field as the 2017 New Balance Outdoor 2 Mile National Champion looks to make yet another statement against a strong Great American field tomorrow. Chmiel holds a PR of 17:15 from 2015 where she took 4th at NXN and has only raced once this year where she won in 17:35. Natalie Tyner (Laney) comes in with the second fastest seasons best in the field at 17:40. Tyner has success on this course three weeks ago at adidas and will look to post yet another strong performance this year and make a statement on a massive stage.
Natalie Morris (Loudoun Valley, VA) had a very big senior year headlined by a 17:49 at her County Championships. Also the Blacksburg duo of Kaitlynn Wolfe and Ailene Edwards will look for some revenge on this WakeMed course after having a somewhat off day as a team a few weeks back at the adidas XC Challenge. This race also has some major names out of Florida in Rafaella Gibbons (Winter Park) and Ana Wallace (Chiles) who will travel North in hopes of new seasons best. Gibbons holds a PR of 17:30 which is one of the best in the field. Sasha Neglia (Dobyns Bennett, TN) was a state champion in Tennessee last year and she holds a PR of 17:32. She clocked a 17:39 at Great American last fall taking 3rd overall. Last fall this race produced 7 sub 18 girls, and I think this field is going to certainly exceed that mark.
Sloan Walter (Cardinal Gibbons), Alexis McDonnell (Hough), Lindsey Ickes (FCDS) and Kelsey Vogel (Green Hope) will be North Carolina's other top girls in this field. Walter has run 18:43 this year, and everything indicates she's in better shape than that. I expect her to shoot up near the top of the state leaderboards this weekend. This race could be a breakout performance for all of these girls even if they are battling it out with the leaders.
We haven't seen the best from Cardinal Gibbons this year as we haven't really seen their full squad so far. Despite being 8th in the virtual meet if the Crusaders have their full squad ready to go this weekend we could easily see them contending for a team title this weekend. South Forsyth (GA) and Blacksburg (VA) enter as the favorites this weekend, though there will be plenty other squads in contention in duPont Manual (KY), Loudoun Valley (VA) , Tuscarora (VA) and Marist (GA). This is a great chance for a program to emerge as a national power this season and prove that they're an NXN contender.