Great conditions + great competion = amazing early-season performances on the most famous course in North Carolina.
What a fantastic weekend of full 5K invitationals! The conditions were absolutely perfect in Charlotte at McAlpine Greenway, with temperatures in the low 70's and the footing superb. When I walked the course Friday night, I was reminded how much of it is away from the crowds of spectators; both the first mile and the third can be very lonely, a sharp contrast from the cacophony of cheering at the start and around the lake. The runners in all four races responded to both the great conditions and the enthusiastic support, turning in one great performance after another. This meet set a standard for the season that will be very hard to meet, at least until the weather truly turns cool later in the year.
Comparison: 2012 Providence Invitational to 2011 Providence Invitational
Just past the midpoint of the race, there was still a fairly large lead pack. Malia Ellington (Community School of Davidson) held a narrow lead, with Sydney Foreman (Ardrey Kell), Maura McDonnell (Green Hope), Kayla Montgomery (Mount Tabor), Megan Sullivan (Broughton), and Anna McBride (Davie) bunched right around her. Only a few steps behind came the Cardinal Gibbons duo of Mary Grace Doggett and Sophie Ebihara, plus Mari Heneage (Lexington, SC). Behind them, there were only a few individuals over a large gap back to the first chase pack, led by Sydney Teague (Ardrey Kell) and teammates Grace Sullivan and Bianca Bishop of Providence. Just behind that group came a foursome of Green Hope girls, spread out over about 30 meters, showing that they were in the team lead at that point.
Over the back loop the lead pack thinned out a bit, and only three were left together coming to the final straight. Megan Sullivan waited for most of that long finishing stretch before passing Foreman with about 40 meters to go, taking the win in 18:12. Foreman finished second with a time of 18:14, followed by Doggett in 18:21. A second bunch from the original first group came in moments later, composed of Ellington (18:31), Montgomery (18:33), Ebihara (18:34), and Faith Lifer (Hilton Head, 18:36). McBride, McDonnell, and Heneage rounded out the top 10, while Allie Castro (North Lincoln) was able to pass everyone from the original second group over the final mile, moving up at least seven places. Green Hope's girls indeed prevailed as team champions, with Lexington (SC) a close second and an impressive Providence girls squad in third.
As the runners came off the hill and headed around the lake the first time, there were only three boys together up front: Bakri Abushouk (Cary), Jack Manesiotis (Hilton Head), and Tony Morales (Lexington, SC). Morales' teammate Zack Langston trailed a bit in fourth, with Wyatt Maxey (Providence) in fifth. A pair of Broughton runners, William Roberson and John Dalton Rohr, followed about 15 meters behind, with a third Cap, Jeremy Brown, another 15 behind them. Finally, Abel Tecle (Cary) and Asher Smith-Rose (Broughton) rounded out the top 10. Broughton was clearly dominating the race, and even had their 6th runner in 12th place! It looked like the Lexington (SC) boys were clearly in second as a team, with Cary challenging.
Very little changed over the last mile, and as they came around the lake the second time it was the same three up front. Abushouk was able to win the race to the finish line, completing the 5K circuit in an impressive 15:20. Manesiotis ran 15:22, with Morales close behind in 15:26. Langston was able to hold off Roberson and Rohr, all three of them finishing within one second of each other at 15:40. The biggest risers over the last mile were Dalton Nickel (Mount Tabor), who rose five spots to finish 7th in 15:41, and Nikolaus Kreiling (Jordan), who wound up 9th in 15:56. Between them was Maxey (15:46), while Tecle faded just a bit to end up in 10th (15:57). Broughton made a big statement about their team strength with a commanding win, while Cary was able to get past Lexington (SC) to finish a very impressive second.