Three girls teams that have traded wins throughout the season and at least 8 individuals that have been battling back and forth all year were ready to square off. The 3A girls race had the most excitement and was one that was difficult to predict, as a lot could have went down. Many girls had their hearts set on becoming state champions on Saturday.
The race went off, and two girls went down calling a restart as the girls were about 75 meters down the opening stretch.
Second time was the charm and the girls were off and rolling. Early on it was Jenna Reiter (West Carteret) who was ready to take things from the gun, and surprisingly the field was fine to let her go. The field was loaded with strong finishers in Katherine Dokholyan (Chapel Hill), Sarah LaTour (Cuthbertson) and Elise Wright (T.C. Roberson), so they knew they'd be able to reel in Reiter if she started to slow up.
Reiter got out to about a 75-100 meter lead, but once she was out there it seemed like the lead was pretty steady for a ways into the race. As the approached the halfway mark the chase pack was composed of Dokholyan, Wright, LaTour, Jonna Strange (North Iredell), Frances Whitworth (Mount Tabor), Madeline Hill (Cuthbertson), Anna Bristle (Parkwood) and Sarah Bechtel (Weddington) all hanging in there. They were in no hurry to reel in Reiter.
As they passed the two mile mark Reiter's lead was down to about 30 meters, while LaTour and Wright had broken off the pack and closed the gap down. The two reeled in Reiter, and we've seen a strong last mile from LaTour often this season. But this time it was Wright who took the lead. She put some distance on LaTour and Reiter, while the chase pack lead by Dokholyan was reeling them in.
Wright was able to hold on through the finish line clocking an NC#5 time! Wright had run 18:24 this year, and though she wasn't a favorite in this field, she came in with confidence that it was going to be her day. She did just that stunning this loaded 3A girls field winning by 10 seconds.
Dokholyan was able to hold on with her late push and hold off a ton of girls that were in chase. That would go on to be big for Chapel Hill in the team battle. Dokholyan ran 18:13, her 3rd top 5 finish of her career finishing 2nd, 4th and 2nd the last three seasons. The freshman Madeline Hill was able to edge Jenna Reiter at the line for 3rd in a big appearance in her first ever state championship. Reiter suffered from the early pace, but she can leave knowing she left it all on the course clocking 18:18.
Whitworth had a very big day taking 5th in 18:22 cementing herself amongst the states top runners this year. Bristle was able to edge long time rival LaTour for 6th clocking 18:26 o 18:27. LaTour tried to hold on to Wright, but really suffered over the last 100 meters stumbling through the line. Regardless we can't forget how dominant LaTour was throughout the regular season, and it's hard to see an outstanding season end this way.
Stange, Jaeden Phelix (Piedmont) and Bechtel rounded out the all-state finishers running 18:28, 18:49 and 18:59.
I tried to track the team battle was I saw the girls pass heading into the last mile. One this was for sure, it was too close to call. Teams seemed virtually tied at this point, and whoever had the strongest last mile was going to win this battle. I can't tell if I was accurate or not, but at that point in the race I saw it Weddington, Cuthbertson, Chapel Hill.
We were right in the race being close. Just 12 points separated first through third. Powered by Dokholyan's 2nd place finish, Chapel Hill was able to edge Cuthbertson by 9 points! Lilly Crook and Madi Marvin earned an 11th and 14th place finish making them the first team with three girls in. Though through three girls the score was 23-24 Chapel Hill. On top of that, Weddington was the first team with four girls across the line! But Chapel Hill's Maggie Springer and Grace Tate were able to lock up the win for the Tigers with a 22nd and 25th place finish! Cuthbertson needed their 4th and 5th to be just a little further ahead and the battle would have been tight. Weddington was missing the low stick that Chapel Hill and Cuthbertson had as they missed the podium by just three points.