One of the biggest and most competitve invitationals of the entire season kicks off a great first full weekend of 5K races.
(Returning 5K times from 2011 only, some teams might not load up A race)
(Entry list posted)
One of the really special things about cross country season in North Carolina is our amazing opening weekend, which features two major invitationals and a handful of smaller meets that still contain interesting teams. The Providence Invitational now features 45 teams and over 1700 athletes over its four races, if everyone entered actually runs. That's a crowd, even for McAlpine! This will make it very important for the top teams to get out in front of the horde, which could turn each race into essentially two separate contests. This will be an interesting early test for a number of teams with big aspirations, and likewise for some talented individuals. When combined with the WNC Carnival results, we will have a much clearer picture of how good our early-season rankings are. Below are the previews for the A races, where most teams' top 10 runners will compete (although it's quite possible that some teams will not put 10 into the A race).
Womens A Race
Teams to Watch
The Green Hope girls will be favorites in just about every race this year, although they probably will not be as dominant as last year. If Cardinal Gibbons has Rachel Bartolomeo in the race (she did not run last weekend), they will most likely be the closest threat. There could be a very interesting battle for third place, with four teams very close to each other: Lexington (SC), Ardrey Kell, Broughton (assuming Mattie Blue runs, she also missed last weekend), and Providence. Any of those four could threaten Gibbons for second on a good day.
Athletes to Watch
Malia Ellington (Community School of Davidson) will be making her cross country debut after missing her entire freshman season with an injury; she ran 17:31 on a road course at the end of a triathlon this summer (check out more info here, although they have a stat wrong; she was the 8th-fastest freshman in the country). She will have to get past a host of established veterans if she wants to make a big splash, though. Sydney Foreman (Ardrey Kell) continues to improve steadily, while Anna McBride (Davie) and Maura McDonnell (Green Hope) both possess powerful kicks and are tough to beat over the last 800. Megan Sullivan (Broughton) and Mary Grace Doggett (Cardinal Gibbons) had great 3K races last weekend--Doggett's was equivalent to her 3200 PR--and Rachel Bartolomeo should contend for a top-5 spot based on her spring results.
Mens A Race
Teams to Watch
Based on returning times, the Lexington (SC) squad looks like an overwhelming favorite. However, after a strong showing last weekend, it will be interesting to see how Broughton stacks up against them. Weddington, the #2 team in our All-Classes Preseason Rankings, will rely on a tightly-bunched pack to try to bring home a team win. Behind those three teams there could be a bit of a drop-off, with Hilton Head, Cardinal Gibbons, and an improved Cary team battling for the last two spots in the top five. Keep an eye on 2A power North Lincoln as they try to run with 4A contenders South View, Providence, and Mount Tabor.
Athletes to Watch
North Carolina's boys will have a hard time just getting into the top 5, as there are four sub-15:50 returners from South Carolina in the race: Jack Manesiotis (Hilton Head) and Lexington's Tony Morales, Zack Langston, and Blake White. That will provide a great test for Wyatt Maxey (Providence) and Bakri Abushouk (Cary); the latter clocked a fast 9:01 for 3K last weekend and looks like he's in very good shape. Also, based on last weekend's results, you should expect Abel Tecle (Cary) to stick around the top 10, and the Broughton trio of William Roberson, Asher Smith-Rose, and Allen Lawrence will certainly be in the hunt.