Your intrepid webmaster is going to Oregon next weekend and needs some NC runners to report on. You in, Ben Huffman?
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Teams to Watch
The last time a North Carolina team advanced to Nike Cross Nationals was 2010, when the Green Hope girls represented our state. The team with the best shot to punch their tickets to Oregon would appear to be the Broughton boys (running as Capital Distance), who enter the meet tied for second in the virtual meet (see below). Only the top two teams are guaranteed to advance, although the third- and fourth-place squads can be considered for at-large berths; that means the Caps will have to race very well. On the girls' side, Cardinal Gibbons and Green Hope will renew their battle for the title of best team in North Carolina, after finishing in a tie for first in the final NCRunners All-Classes Team Rankings. While they race for bragging rights, they will also be trying to move up from their 3rd- and 4th-place rankings pre-race to get into contention for the top two places and guaranteed trips to Oregon. Both teams have a tough hill to climb, though, with Assumption (KY) and Tatnall (DE) both eyeing their return to the West Coast.
Individuals to Watch
North Carolina has a very good chance to send more than one individual to Nike Cross Nationals next weekend; the top 5 individuals that do not advance with their teams will be invited to continue their season. Rumor has it that Wesley Frazier has chosen this meet over Foot Locker South (she has registered for both), and if so that could mean her second trip to the Portland area this fall. Megan Sullivan (Broughton) ranks in the top 5 coming into the meet, and when you account for the Assumption girls ahead of her she could be the second or third individual qualifier. Behind her lurks a long list of NC girls that have solid chances to earn individual berths: Pegah Kamrani (East Chapel Hill) and Maura McDonnell (Green Hope) in the best positions coming into the race. Mary Grace Doggett (Cardinal Gibbons) will need to break 18 for the first time to have a shot, while Sydney Foreman (Ardrey Kell) needs to return to her 17:50-form from 2011. Finally, Rebekah Greengrass (Panther Creek) and Sophie Ebihara (Cardinal Gibbons) have outside chances if they can come up with breakthrough races. In the boys' race, Ben Huffman (Providence Day) ranks fifth coming into the meet, and his 9:08 for 3200 two weekends ago would seem to indicate he is ready for more. If Broughton cannot engineer a team trip, then William Roberson has a good shot to move on individually.