Great American proved to be a true test for all the teams that competed. Not only was the competition strong, but the course and heat proved to be formidable opponents as well. As I ran the course the day before, I didn't expect the times to be so slow and the weather to be so hot. Early in the week it looked as if it would be raining all day . . . that was far from true. There were a lot of sunburned faces and arms by day's end.
Andy Wacker began the day for North Carolina on a high note. Andy was out hard and ran in the front pack for the first mile and a quarter. Ben Hubers of GA began to break the pack apart and by 1.5 miles there were a couple smaller groups. Andy came down the hill with about 800 meters to go in 6th place. As he went under the tunnel with about 500 meters to go he moved into 5th. It was a great performance by Andy, especially since this course was VERY different than the two courses he has won on earlier this season. His time of 16:11 was the 5th fastest time all day on the tough course.
Part of the reason for the slow times was due to the heat. In the morning it was about 80 degrees and humid. As the afternoon set in and the Charlotte Catholic and Providence Day teams took the course the temperatures were reaching triple digits. One news station said it was 96 degrees.
TC Roberson's girls ran in the ROC race after Andy's race and they looked strong. I think it was their best team performance of the season. The girls were led by Caroline Kirby's 45th place. Following her was a solid pack of Stephanie Chapman, Claire Duval, Hannah McArdle and Kylie Smith, only separated by 16 seconds. The Roberson girls finished 11th out of 23 schools and looked much more like the team a lot of people expected to see this season.
Charlotte Catholic had to run during the onset of brutal heat. The boys were without their top runner, Jonathan Sunde, due to illness. The boys only finished 16th out of 23 schools but they did have a very tight scoring pack. Mark Lascara led the way in 18:49 with their 5th man running 19:14. If they can keep the pack, run the way they did at WNC, and add in a front running Sunde, they will be tough in 3A competition.
The girls finished 7th of 13 and were led by Jessy O'Connell's 17th place. The girls were a bit more spread apart than previous meets, but will look to regain form at the Wendy's Invitational in 2 weeks.
Providence Day's boys and girls may have had it the roughest. By the time they hit the course at 1:10 and 2:25, temperatures were in the mid 90's and simply beating down. The boys finished 12th out of 27 schools in the Red Invitational, which proved to be the 2nd toughest race of the day behind the ROC. The team was in the top 5 at the halfway point, but couldn't hold on to their strong start. Clay Sankey led the boys with his 6th place finish.
The girl's team, only finishing with 5 runners, placed 3rd of 11 teams in the White Invitational. Jill Yandle finised 4th in the race and paced the Chargers. Powers Gatlin and Brenna Lakeson also placed high, finishing in 10th and 20th respectfully.
David Dement, of Cary Academy, also competed on Saturday. He ran in the Blue Invitational for smaller schools. David finished 7th in 18:42 in the hottest part of the day as well.
Good job, NC.