Pretty much off of the states top girls programs were set to face off a Friday Night Lights in the Championship section. 3A powers in Weddington, Cuthbertson and Chapel Hill headlined the field as well as Green Hope, West Forsyth and Reagan. A lot of individual stars were eyeing pre-race favorite Carmen Alder (Pinecrest) who has been unstoppable against North Carolina competition since the outdoor track season began.
Alder is known for not being afraid to take the race out hard. This time she went out to the front of the lead pack, but she didn't have any separation on the field. Alder held the lead through the 800m mark with Madeline Hill (Cuthbertson) and the rest of the field on her shoulder. As the girls came through the mile mark Alder still remained up front, though the front pack was beginning to string out a tad from the field. Ainsley Cooper (Reagan) sat on her shoulder with Frances Whitworth (Mt. Tabor), Hill and Eliza Broce breaking ahead of the field.
The athletes got to the halfway mark rolling down the long straight by the road and it looked to be two girls pushing the pace. Whitworth had looked to be in control of the pace with Alder on her shoulder and Hill just behind. As they got through the 2 mile Alder had a change of pace and took off from Whitworth. The two had pulled ahead of the field and Whitworth was hoping to hold onto the surge Alder was throwing down.
Alder was able to pull ahead of Whitworth closing the door over the last mile clocking a 1 second season best of 18:22. Her dominance over the last mile shows she's likely got a lot more in store as she looks ahead to a fast course next week at the adidas XC Challenge. Whitworth's took 2nd in 18:40, which isn't a PR but the placing over this strong of a field shows she's got a lot in store for this XC season. Madeline Hill charged through the line in 3rd clocking 18:51 with Broce holding off a late charge from Sophia Ritter (Watauga) for 4th as both clocked 19:01.
Team wise it seemed very close throughout the race between Weddington, Cuthbertson and Chapel Hill. Cuthbertson had the advantage of scoring 2 girls in the top 10 in Hill and Leah Helms with a 3-8 finish. Chapel Hill was lead by Maggie Springer with a 19:14 7th place finish and Weddington was lead by Emma Jones in 11th. As the teams came through the 2 Mile it seemed like it was Weddington with an advantage over Cuthbertson as the Warriors #7 girl was with the Cavs #5. The girls began to finish and it was apparent the Chapel Hill girls, as usual, had a really strong last mile and it was tough to make out a difference amongst the three squads.
Cuthbertson girls were able to defend their team title by 11 points scoring 99 overall with a 19:39 team average. Weddington held off Chapel Hill by 1 point with a score of 110 to 111. West Forsyth beat Green Hope for 5th with 188 points to the Falcons 236. Northern Guilford was a big surprise taking 6th overall with a 13th and 14th place finish from 3A 400m Runner-Up Alyssa Hernandez and Emma Fredericks.
Chapel Hill, Weddington and Cuthbertson was a major battle last year at the NCHSAA 3A State Championships and despite come graduation it looks like the rematch is on!