Boys Pre-Season Cross Country Rankings: #22

Walter Johnson helped Pine Forest reach new heights in the 4x8 this spring; can he lead the Trojans to the state meet in the fall?

NCRunners is counting down the top 25 boys cross country teams in the state, from all classifications, in preparation for the start of the fall season. The top 3 boys teams will be revealed on August 1st, which is the official first day of practice. For a more detailed explanation of how these rankings were developed, see this article.

#22: Pine Forest

South View coach Jesse Autry told me almost two years ago. "Watch out for Pine Forest, that's a program on the rise!" Though it took a little while for the Trojans to show it on the state level, he was right (as evidenced by their 7:50 in the 4x800 this spring). If they can carry that momentum over to a strong summer, this team should make the state meet (although that won't be easy). 800 success doesn't always translate to cross country, however, and Pine Forest does need to cultivate depth and get their 4-7 runners to tighten up on the top three. That makes this squad a real wild card for the upcoming season, with the possibility of sneaking into the top 10 at the 4A state meet just as likely as getting left out entirely. It will be interesting to see how things turn out in the resurgent 4A East Region, which has now become quite competitive after some down years.

Pine Forest
1) Walter Johnson 16:31.00 62
2) Dakota Schaub 16:48.00 105
3) Sam Maxfield 16:49.00 107
4) Peyton Smith 17:40.00 351
5) Nate Leahy 17:44.00 365
Average Time: 17:06.40 -- Total Time: 1:25:32.00 -- 1-5 Split: 1:13.00
6) Jerry Shank 17:58.00 445
7) Aaron Sennabaum 18:26.00 635

#23: Cary Academy

Although this school has been better known for individual success over the past several years, the team has done well at the NCISAA 3A level. This is a veteran squad (three seniors and two juniors among the top 7), and if that leadership leads to a strong summer of training, the Chargers could be a contender this fall. Josh Mitchell showed signs of developing into a star last fall, although his track season was a bit underwhelming. If Mitchell emerges as a threat to run top 3 at his state meet this year, then things could come together for Cary Academy; if he doesn't get there until his senior year, though, it could be a year too late.

Cary Academy
1) Josh Mitchell 16:10.14 25
2) Sam Russell 16:46.08 104
3) Coleman Mitchell 17:03.11 149
4) Alex Stephenson 17:35.50 319
5) Thomas Marshall 17:46.80 375
Average Time: 17:04.33 -- Total Time: 1:25:21.63 -- 1-5 Split: 1:36.66
6) Tylor Moore 18:31.10 669
7) Leighton Boiar 18:33.30 681

#24: Lake Norman Charter

The last 3 years have been somewhat frustrating for the Knights: although they have been a very strong program, they have finished third, second, and second again in the the 1A state meet. This year's squad would like nothing more than to break through and win a state title, but a move to 2A could get in the way. LNCS returns a balanced team with a strong top 5 and solid depth. As an added bonus, the Knights have a tandem of #1-caliber runners, which should alleviate the burden of having to lead the team and set the pace every single race.

Lake Norman Charter School 954
1) Matthew Panza 16:34.11 72
2) Nathan Kemper 16:39.75 86
3) Sean Kenney 17:19.47 228
4) Sean Powers 17:21.00 236
5) Keaton Cooper 17:37.49 332
Average Time: 17:06.36 -- Total Time: 1:25:31.82 -- 1-5 Split: 1:03.38
6) Andrew Swift 17:38.19 340
7) Zach Stephens 17:48.58 387

#25: Watauga

It is almost the exact same story for the Pioneer boys as it was for the girls: the graduation of a very strong senior class, coupled with a shake-up in the coaching staff, could make this a bit of a rebuilding year. There is young talent, however, as only two of the top 7 returners are seniors this fall, and Watauga has a potential individual star developing in Michael Holland. This team ranks third in the 4A West coming into the season, and taking this many returners to the state meet would be an excellent step back toward the top 10 in 2014.

1) Michael Holland 16:26.00 51
2) Matt Osborne 17:08.18 174
3) Drew Boyette 17:11.00 186
4) Will Vandenberg 17:15.00 199
5) Jacob Soule 17:50.00 400
Average Time: 17:10.04 -- Total Time: 1:25:50.18 -- 1-5 Split: 1:24.00
6) Zack Styron 18:01.00 464
7) Joe Wiswell 18:26.00 634