Fast and competitive races under good conditions led to the best set of times so far this year, and some great debut races.
(Results, Photos, VIdeos)
Bakri Abushouk (Cary) took the race out hard, crossing the 800m mark in a reported 2:03 while the announcer compared him to superstar Edward Cheserek. Philip Hall (Terry Sanford) trailed some distance back, smartly not trying to kill himself to match Bakri's pace. The first pack contained Nick Link (Blacksburg VA), Trevor Sleight (Carolina Day), and Ben Huffman (Providence Day), while Colin Godwin (Cary Academy) lurked just behind them.
Abushouk was able to maintain his lead throughout the bulk of the race. When the runners emerged from the woods for the last time to head up the hill toward the finish, Godwin had caught and passed everyone else, looking strong in second place. Perhaps tired out by his breakneck early pace, Bakri was unable to hold Colin off down the final stretch, and Colin took the win 15:13.3 to 15:13.4. Huffman looked strong in claiming third place, while Sleight was able to kick past Wyatt Maxey (Providence) to take fourth; Maxey had made a strong move up through the field over the final mile to get into the top 5.
Eliza Dekker (Durham Academy) quickly established herself at the front of this race, and she was matched there by Stephanie Aldrich of Henderson (West Chester, PA). Another pair followed close behind them, friends and long-time rivals Darby Middlebrook (Watauga) and Brooke Gordon (TC Roberson), with Mary Grace Doggett (Cardinal Gibbons) just off Gordon's shoulder. Lily Anderson (TC Roberson) trailed them slightly, and then the main pack followed, with Sophie Ebihara (Cardinal Gibbons) up front.
The runners really stretched out over the final half of the race, with Dekker pulling away to a commanding lead and making the final turn with nobody else in sight. Middlebrook was able to move into second place, while Aldrich finished third and Doggett fourth. Cardinal Gibbons pulled out their second team win in as many weekends, defeating Blacksburg 115-134, with Watauga a strong third at 149.
The early leader was Chris O'Brien (Raleigh Charter), followed by Sam Williams (Bishop McGuinness). Trailing them was the lead pack, fronted by Reservoir (MD) teammates Adam Gartrell and Owen Pochettino.
After completing the big loop and returning for the final hill, Williams had taken over the lead and maintained it with a strong finish, running 16:35.8. That makes two wins in two weekends for Williams, who is quickly establishing himself as a threat for the 1A title. Pochettino and Gartrell finished second and third, with O'Brien fourth. Next came two Marvin Ridge runners, leading their squad to the team win over Reservoir (MD).
The early pace was set by Tristin Van Ord (Chapel Hill) and Cierra DellaRova (Enloe), an impressive 9th-grader. Just behind them were Arden Vessie (Corinth Holders) and Gabby Merritt (Greensboro Day), who never trailed in her win at the Seahawk Invitational last weekend.
Merritt made a strong, sustained move through the middle of the race, and she came out of the woods for the final time in complete control of the race, pulling away to a PR time of 18:53.5. Van Ord gave everything she had in holding off Vessie, while DellaRova came in fourth in her first major race. Van Ord's finish helped lead the Chapel Hill girls to the team title over Reservoir (MD).