Well, last year Ryan Hill sat back and kicked over the final 400 meters to win the state title. A lot of people wondered after that performance, "What's wrong with Ryan?" Today was a completely different story. Ryan broke the field immediately as he blasted the opening the mile, leaving no doubt in people's minds what his goal was on the day. To set a new course record!
Mooresville's Patrick Campbell who didn't race last week because of an injury chased hard, but just didn't have enough to match Hill's performance.
In the end, Hill broke the record running 15:30.75. He was 4:36 at the mile, 9:42 at the 2, and 15:06 at 3. Obviously the early pace even took a toll on Ryan, but he was able to throw down a nasty .1 to claim the new record. Campbell also turned in an impressive performance, as he was 4:41, 9:54, and then 15:48 at the line.
The eary pace really left some athletes hanging on for dear life, as the chase pack all came through in about 5:00. Some runners, Will Taylor of Sun Valley included, sat back and didn't get caught up in the fast tempo.
The race was behind Hill and Campbell, as those two gapped the rest of the field by a wide margin.
It was also evident throughout the race that the Mooresville boys, in their new tye-dye singlets, were at the head of the class. Despite their #2, Joseph Newman not finishing, their depth was too much for Asheville, and the rest of the 3A field, to handle.
So back to the race. John Harwell, Joseph Newman, and Matt Smith of Statesville hit the mile in 4:57, still very fast. As they came down the hill for the first time, Will Taylor and Zach Brantley of Northern Nash had moved up into a battle for 3rd place.
Taylor, Brantley, and Harwell came through 2 miles around the same time, hitting 10:19. Still a very respectable time for the tough Tanglewood course. However, they were already giving up 25 seconds to Campbell and 37 to Hill.
As the athletes began the climb back into the woods, Taylor had opend up a small gap and looked strong. Brantley was in 4th and then another small gap back to Harwell.
Not much changed in the back, as Hill came out on top, Campbell was 2nd, Taylor did pull away for 3rd, Brantley held on for 4th, and Harwell stayed in the 5th spot.
Reagan's front two of Nick Freeman and Austin Jones ran well, both making All-State, and giving them a solid 1-2 punch. However, in the end, Asheville was too tough. Asheville almost pulled off an upset, as they only lost to Mooresville by 7 points.
Teal McLean of Hickory Ridge, coming off her Regional win, took the early pace out with Danielle Hobbs of Sun Valley on her shoulder. There was a huge pack as it truly looked as if no one wanted to lead early.
At the 1-mile mark, there was a pack of about 12 girls together. They came through in a very respectable 6:02, but agian, no one really wanted to lead.
By the downhill, it had looked as if it had become a 5 girl race. The 5 were: Lindsay Ester of Williams, Kaitlyn Davis of Jacksonville, Caroline Kirby of TC Roberson, Danielle Hobbs of Sun Valley, and Cara Hayes of Asheville.
The TC Roberson girl's were running very well, as they had 5 among the top 12 or so.
The group of 5 girls were still together at the 2-mile mark. Hobbs and Hayes were beginning to fall a few strides behind, but Kirby, Ester, and Davis were running 3-wide.
Roberson looked as dominant as Gibbons as they approached the final hill. They were sitting in 1st, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th.
In the woods, Kirby and Ester made a break and it became a 2-girl race as they came down the hill. Ester has some wheels, where Kirby is more of a strength runner, and that's what showed down the stretch. Ester of Williams pulled away, winning in 19:13, 3 seconds ahead of Kirby.
Davis held on for 3rd in 19:41, Hobbs claimed 4th in 19:43, and a late charging Stephanie Chapman was 5th in 19:45.
TCR placed 5 girls in the top 9 and almost put 5 girls under 20:00 on this demanding Tanglewood course. They proved they were unbeatable in the 3A girls competition.
Reagan's girls ran well, coming off their win at the Midwest Regional, and claimed 2nd place overall. Leslie Raymond led the way with her 11th place finish. They edged Asheville by 2 points, 105 to 107.