Girls Pre-Season Cross Country Rankings: #17

Tori Churchill will be missing one of her running mates this fall, but she still leads a strong and rising Grimsley team.


NCRunners is counting down the top 25 girls cross country teams in the state, from all classifications, in preparation for the start of the fall season.  The top 2 girls 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.


#17: Grimsley

I'm sure a lot of our knowledgeable fans will be questioning this placement, as the returning Grimsley runners would seem to deserve a much higher ranking.  Unfortunately, Gaby Maudiere has moved back to California, where she ran during her freshman year.  Even without her, the Whirlies still return 5 girls who average just under 20 minutes, which gives them a good chance to advance out of the 4A Midwest and could put them on the verge of the top 10 in the 4A state meet.  Tori Churchill returns as the #1 runner, and Blair Ramsey had an outstanding winter and spring track season, which could herald significant improvement this fall.  Grimsley needs to develop depth now more than ever, so hopefully their successes over the past school year have attracted more participants.  The improvements of Sydney Gilstrap (5:33) and Mary Katherine Gwynn (12:45) could actually leave the Whirlies better than they were last year, even with the loss of such a strong runner.

  1) Tori Churchill   18:17.00 11
  2) Gaby Maudiere   18:39.36 20
  3) Blair Ramsey   18:47.00 23
  4) Sydney Gilstrap   20:10.30 153
  5) Megan Brannigan   20:25.34 195
  Average Time: 19:15.80 -- Total Time: 1:36:19.00 -- 1-5 Split: 2:08.34
  6) Gabby Pysher   21:29.48 413
  7) Mary Katherine Gwynn   22:27.94 669


#18: Pinecrest

The loss of last year's top runner, Jennie Cunningham, definitely hurts the Patriots.  However, it leaves behind a different kind of team, one that will depend on pack cohesion to succeed.  That pack goes 6-deep, and the split is tight (particularly between their 2-6 runners).  As an added indicator, very few teams showed as much depth during winter and spring track season as Pinecrest: they finished in the top 6 in the state for the winter and spring 3200 team rankings.  Based on those track results, it looks like Mulloy Manning is going to challenge Jaleigh Jensen for the #1 spot, which gives the Patriots a valuable safeguard against the inevitable off-day from one or the other.  One more bonus: this is a senior-heavy team with a ton of experience, and if those seniors are committed over the summer this squad could be top-10 in the 4A state meet.

  1) Jaleigh Jensen   19:37.93 74
  2) Mulloy Manning   20:05.41 136
  3) Zia Matti   20:31.92 216
  4) Sarah Klug   20:40.85 242
  5) Katie Hayes   20:52.10 276
  Average Time: 20:21.64 -- Total Time: 1:41:48.21 -- 1-5 Split: 1:14.17
  6) Rachel Von Cannon   20:53.00 282
  7) Jordan Edmondson   21:33.84 434


#19: Providence Day

The positives are very strong for this team: returning #1 Emma Brown had an excellent spring season, and the team as a whole ranked 5th in the state in team 3200 scoring.  At first glance, the major obstacle would appear to be depth, as there is a big gap between the Chargers' 4th and 5th returners.  Look a little deeper, though, and you can find several girls from the outdoor track team that were not in last fall's top 7, but have the potential to boost the cross country squad.  Niki Plaus ran 5:21 for the 1600, and Providence Day has a trio of youngsters that ran between 12:31 and 12:41 for the 3200 in Sarah Richman, Samanthan Huffman (recognize that name?), and rising 8th-grader Clare Landis (she could compete for the varsity under NCISAA rules, but Providence Day, like all CISAA schools, does not put 7th- or 8th-graders on the high school team).  Plaus is running cross country for certain, and if even one of the other three pans out as a top-7 runner this team could end up being 6-deep in sub-20 runners.  If so, the Chargers will end the season much higher than this ranking; for now, though, it's simply too hard to project where those newcomers might fit in.

  Providence Day School  
  1) Emma Brown   19:12.00 47
  2) Heather Graci   19:52.00 101
  3) Grace Clements   20:11.00 155
  4) Mary Rebecca Allison   20:27.00 202
  5) Stephanie Burt   21:30.00 415
  Average Time: 20:14.40 -- Total Time: 1:41:12.00 -- 1-5 Split: 2:18.00
  6) Cj Miles   21:41.00 465
  7) Kimmy Baudhuin   21:51.30 501


#20: West Carteret

The good news: the Patriots return Blake Dodge, who struggled through a nagging injury last fall and should be back to top form, threatening the 18-minute mark.  Interestingly, even without the 2011 3A state champ, her teammates still cracked the top 10, which is a big sign of the overall improvement they've has made in the last two years.  The bad news: Katie Cease has graduated, and West Carteret has a depth problem that could derail a promising season if any of the top 5 get injured.  More good news: several of the returning squad showed significant improvement during the spring season, from Madeline Fischer's 5:36 to Samantha Schleiker and Emma Gomez running solid mid-12's in the 3200.  If healthy, this team is top-5 caliber in a strong 3A classification, and could sneak into the top 3.  Did I mention they have the state's best closer as their #1 runner?

20 West Carteret 921
  1) Blake Dodge   19:39.00 76
  2) Samantha Schleiker   20:05.92 137
  3) Kristen Wagner   20:34.50 223
  4) Madeline Fisher   20:39.23 237
  5) Emma Gomez   20:43.12 248
  Average Time: 20:20.35 -- Total Time: 1:41:41.77 -- 1-5 Split: 1:04.12
  6) Sierra Milosh   22:49.29 760
  7) Mckayla Webb   24:42.68 1202


#21: Jay M. Robinson

This has been a program on a steady rise over the last three years: 11th in the 3A state meet in 2010, 9th in 2011, and 5th last fall.  Based on returning talent, the Bulldogs are on target for something in the 4th - 7th range this fall, with front-runner Natalie Andrejchak in the conversation for individual title contenders.  Depth could be a bit of a problem if the top 5 girls don't stay healthy, though, and any of the top 3 would be especially tough to replace.  Robinson's girls need a strong summer to prove that they haven't reached their ceiling already.

  Robinson, Jay M  
  1) Natalie Andrejchak   18:26.79 13
  2) Brooke Johns   20:10.29 151
  3) Ashleigh Andrejchak   20:14.00 161
  4) Lauren Hughes   20:50.48 270
  5) Addy Keck   21:18.50 358
  Average Time: 20:12.01 -- Total Time: 1:41:00.06 -- 1-5 Split: 2:51.71
  6) Kirsten Blackburn   21:33.72 433
  7) Megan Miller   22:49.03 759


#22: Charlotte Latin

One of the stronger programs in the state over the past six or seven years, this team has been hit hard by graduation.  There is still talent, though, and good depth (especially considering the size of the school).  The one weakness in the returning team appears to be the large gap between their fourth and fifth runners; if one of the Hawks' depth runners can step up to fill that spot, they will be contenders in the NCISAA 3A division.  That improvement will have to come over the summer: although Latin's top three showed good development during track season, there wasn't much from the rest of the returning top 7.

Charlotte Latin  
  1) Kiera Dowell   19:41.00 80
  2) Katie Mcdowell   19:55.00 108
  3) Tricia Murphy   20:18.00 172
  4) Avery Reischer   20:25.04 193
  5) Emma Cooley   21:31.00 419
  Average Time: 20:22.01 -- Total Time: 1:41:50.04 -- 1-5 Split: 1:50.00
  6) Jayne Anne Imbrog   21:37.00 450
  7) Addy Collett   21:47.00 488


#23: Weddington

Lately, Weddington has been able to manufacture solid teams on both the boys and girls side, even when it seems like graduation will drop them down a peg or two.  That seems to be the product of a strong summer program, as their development during the winter and spring doesn't really jump out at you.  Morgan Garrett could be the latest in a string of good #1 runners for the Warriors if she has bounced back from a bit of a rough spring season.  This team has real depth, too, in that there is always someone else right behind each runner, which helps to take the pressure off and allows for more consistent team performances, even as individuals have good or bad days.  If these girls buy in over the summer, expect Weddington to continue their string of state meet appearances.

Weddington High School  
  1) Morgan Garrett   18:58.69 37
  2) Natalie Warner   20:18.00 173
  3) Allison Long   20:44.00 249
  4) Brianna Kapheim   20:53.00 280
  5) Sophie Van Dyne   20:57.00 298
  Average Time: 20:22.14 -- Total Time: 1:41:50.69 -- 1-5 Split: 1:58.31
  6) Amanda Brook   21:15.00 342
  7) Sophie Van Dyne   21:25.67 396


#24: Apex

Though the Apex girls lack the recent history of their counterparts on the boys' team, they have always been solid, and this year's squad has shown signs of significant improvement through the winter and spring seasons.  They have a tremendous training group among their front five, who are were separated by only 46 seconds (a pack that close is rare among teams outside the top 10).  If those girls bought in and are pushing each other all summer, shifting that pack forward by about 30 seconds, the Apex girls have great potential.  With two seniors among the returning top 6, this team has a good chance to make the state meet this year, but might not peak until 2014.

  1) Cara Gaudioso   20:10.40 153
  2) Amber Blanton   20:13.00 158
  3) Elie Rivera   20:35.81 225
  4) Elora Galluzzo   20:56.00 293
  5) Samantha Malone   20:57.00 296
  Average Time: 20:34.44 -- Total Time: 1:42:52.21 -- 1-5 Split: 46.60
  6) Natalia Ghan   21:16.50 352
  7) Hannah Ferguson   21:20.00 363


#25: Watauga

The Pioneers have one of the longest and deepest traditions in our sport, but they face several obstacles this fall.  The graduation of their top three runners (and four of their top 7) from last fall will hurt, as will the loss of Coach David Honea (although he was only a part of the very strong staff at Watauga).  The culture of hard work will remain long after them, though, and that is what always gives this team the hope of making the state meet.  Depth appears to be a bit of a problem, although a good summer can help counteract that.  The rising junior class appears to be strong, and that means it may not be long before we see the two-tone blue and white in the top 10 again.

  1) Kathleen Mansure   19:25.00 61
  2) Lynde Wangler   19:50.00 95
  3) Celia Jackson   20:25.00 192
  4) Shelby Hickernell   20:48.00 265
  5) Lily Weeks   21:06.00 315
  Average Time: 20:18.80 -- Total Time: 1:41:34.00 -- 1-5 Split: 1:41.00
  6) Taylor Woolridge   21:34.90 441
  7) Sidney Wiswell   22:43.00 729