It was a great day to run, and a day for some of the smaller schools in the state to show their stuff against good competition.
It was clear from the gun that Ben Fiedler and his Asheville School teammates meant business, as he went straight to the front and they had four runners in the top 10 early.
As the runners came around the lake to approach the 2-mile mark, Fiedler was in firm control of the race. Teammate Robert Cook had second place on lockdown, while Clifford Buck (Jay M. Robinson) was established in third. Paul Jordan, also from Asheville School was in fourth, while his teammate Will Campbell was at the front of the first true pack of runners, along with McCann Sheridan (Robinson) and Anthony Hughes (Ledford). That meant Asheville School was dominating, running 1-2-4-6 with a little over a mile to go. Not far back, a string of Reagan runners was lurking, putting them squarely in second place at this point (and looking to climb).
The order up front did change a bit over the last mile, but not the first two runners. Sheridan and Jordan caught up to Buck and staged a great sprint to the finish. Asheville School maintained control of the team race, putting four in the top 10 to score 34 overall. Alex Herron led Reagan's pack to the line, giving them 4 in the top 15 and a clear second-place finish.
It was Spartanburg Christian that jumped out to a quick lead in this race, perhaps inspired by the effort that Asheville School had put forth in proving that small schools can win.
By the time the runners made their first lap around the lake, the top 5 was clearly defined and only their order remained to be determined. They ran in a stretched-out line, with Logan Morris (Spartanburg Christian) in the front, followed by Emily Grimes (Reagan). Natalie Andrejchak (Jay Robinson) was in third, while Margot Corcoran (Charlotte Catholic) held a small lead over Malia Ellington (Community School of Davidson). Reagan's girls were clearly in the lead as a team, although Charlotte Catholic also looked good.
Morris proved to be untouchable in this race, but Andrejchak was able to catch and get past Grimes. A little farther back, Monica Medrano led three Reagan girls that finished within 20 seconds of each other, putting their 5 entirely in the top 18. That was too much for Catholic, who finished second in the team scores.
William Anthony (Gaston Christian) was the early leader, but by the 2-mile mark it was Charlie Laatsch (Marvin Ridge) out front. Anthony was running second, while the Blue Ridge (SC) duo of Jordan Mills and Jakob Sua'Filo trailed behind him. Lurking in 5th was Andrew Garcia (Hickory Grove Baptist).
Over the final mile, Garcia made a strong move forward, and he crossed the finish line first, holding off Mills and Sua'Filo for the win. Buoyed by that 1-2 finish, Blue Ridge (SC) took the team win over Marvin Ridge and Charlotte Catholic.
There was a sea of red at the front of this reace, but that included several teams. By the time the runners made it over the hill and down to the lake, Blue Ridge had taken up a commanding position in the race, led by Casey Cox. Jacey Holombo ran second and Alysia Cooper was fourth, with Walkertown's Alexandra Ott between them in third.
Cox maintained a sizeable lead all the way to the finish, while Cooper passed Ott and nearly caught her Holombo for second place. Blue Ridge went 1-2-3-5 for the commanding win over Marvin Ridge (who occupied places 7-10 with their own four-girl pack) and Reagan.
Running only a 3000 at McAlpine Park means you really only get big crowds at the start and then from the hill to the finish, with a big gap of lonely trail in between. Jacob Lipsey (Marvin Ridge MS) made it to the lake in first place and stayed there to the finish, winning in 11:09. Brandon Ellington (Community School of Davidson) held onto second place while a huge battle raged behind him as Paul Gennett (Holy Trinity) nipped Trae Flynn (Cuthbertson MS) at the line.
Coming down the starting straight, it looked like both Marvin Ridge Middle and Cuthbertson Middle had gotten out fast. When they came back around to the lake, Marvin Ridge Middle was in dominating position. Alexa King was leading five Mavericks in the top 6 runners, and she crossed the line with a very strong time of 11:30. Teammate Alexia Noch had to hold off Sarah LaTour (Cuthbertson MS), both of them breaking the 12-minute barrier.