This race turned out to be the showdown we expected, between Taylor Gilland and Nick Graw. The team battle was also great, as it wasn't until the finish when anyone had a guess as to who was winning.
The first time the race was started, it was called back due to a fall. The leaders were already in the woods, so it was a pretty long stride.
So the 2nd time around, everything went well and the 4A boys were off to the races. Nick Graw of Enloe took the early lead as Taylor Gilland of Chapel Hill seemed content to simply run on his shoulder. The pace wasn't nearly as quick as the one that Hill set earlier, so his new record looked safe.
At the mile mark, Graw and Gilland, along with Patrick Crawford of East Forsyth and Nick Carter of Enloe came through the mile in 5:03. There was a pretty large pack right behind the top 4, so the race seemed to be anyones.
As they came down the hill the first time, the team competition looked up for grabs. Enloe seemed to have a slight lead and Green Hope looked pretty solid as well. Broughton was running well, but wasn't leading . . . yet.
Graw was still leading with Gilland in tow. Then it was Carter with Crawford right on him.
At the 2-mile mark, Taylor and Graw came through in 10:25. Definitely not a blazing pace by any means for these two standouts. It was obvious something was going to happen, as it looked as if these guys had plenty left.
Carter and Crawford were about 10:32 or so, then it was Alex Wiggans of Vance and Andrew Zizzi of Myers Park. Both of these guys had worked up through the field, as you can see from the video.
It looked as if Enloe was winning, but as a 3A coach said to me, "Enloe went out too fast. They're looking rough." Green Hope and Broughton still looked solid. Chapel Hill had a great 1,2,3, but their 4 and 5 were a good ways back.
Down the hill it was Graw and Gilland, Gilland and Graw . . . it was crazy! Both of these fine athletes were in an all out sprint to the tape. In the end, Gilland edged Graw by less than a second. What a finish!
Patrick Crawford had separated himself from the rest of field for 3rd place. Then it was Derrick Poage of South View breaking away from the next group with sophomore Chase Christianson of Terry Sanford taking 5th.
Enloe and Nick Carter faded in the last mile, enough for Broughton to claim the state title by 20. This was one of the most exciting team races I have seen. This year 3 different teams looked as if they were the top dogs in 4A. It ended up coming back full circle as Broughton began fast at the UNCW Invite, and then won the title.
Kimberly Spano of North Meck, the defending champ, had lost at her regional, but it was obvious she put that out of her mind. Spano took the early lead, probably 300 meters in and never looked back. By the 800 meter mark she already had a gap on Andie Cozzarelli of Apex and the rest of the field.
The clost was turned off at the mile, but Spano said she hit the mile in about 5:45. She actually wanted to go out harder, but 5:45 was fast enough.
Cozzarelli was close behind, about 3 seconds. Then it was Michelle Lutz of Jordan, Cory Catlett of Terry Sanford, Tara Wilson of South Caldwell, Hannah Orders of Hopewell, Allison Hofmann of Myers Park, and Becky Heatherington of Providence.
At the mile mark there were a number of teams that were looking strong. Chapel Hill, Providence, Terry Sanford, Cary, and Myers Park all had good starts.
During the 2nd mile, it looked as if Cozzarelli would close the gap on Spano a bit, then Spano would bump it back up, then Cozzarelli would close, then Spano would open. At the 2-mile mark, Spano was 12:04 and Cozzarelli was 12:07.
Then there was the chase pack which came through in about 12:20. Most of the same girls were in the mix, adding in Madison Stark of Chapel Hill.
Spano pushed hard in the woods, knowing Andie's finishing kick, and came down the hill with a substantial lead. Both girls were hauling as they headed for the finish. Spano ended up winning in 18:59 with Cozzarelli in 19:10.
Allison Hofmann and Madison Stark moved in the woods and finished strong, in 19:23 and 19:24. Then it was Terry Sanford's Cory Catlett taking 5th.
Phoebe Roer of Page ran a spectacular race. Not on anyone's radar, she ran 19:39 for 6th place overall. Two 9th graders, Margaret Leak of Mount Tabor and Megan Sullivan of North Meck, finished in the top 10 with times under 20:00.
The team race was won by Chapel Hill as they 5 in the top 36 and 2 in top 15. Myers Park held off Terry Sanford for 2nd, defeating them by 10 points.