This was the only race of the day that didn't have one individual run away from the field and dominate the race. We had a big pack at the halfway mark lead by Todd Holbrook (RJ Reynolds) and followed closely by Cameron Ponder (Mt. Tabor), John Tatter (RJR) Sam Grelck (Gibbons) Ben Savino (Apex) and Patrick Spychalski (Wando, SC). They made their way around the lake through the 2 mile mark and through the woods and a Ponder, Tatter, Holbrook, and Spychalski had pulled away from the group. Ponder assumed the lead and was pushing the pace, but kept an eye on the three behind him.
Ponder was able to hold off everyone down the stretch running 15:40 with Holbrook at 15:41 just behind him. Spychalski was looking like he was going to snag 2nd but Holbrook made a hard move over the last 20 meters. Tatter almost got in front of Spychalski and both crossed the line at 15:42.18, but Spychalski got the nod for 3rd. Grelck set a 9 second PR running 15:50 for 5th with Savino just behind at 15:59 for 6th.
Michael Moerk (Tabor) and Jamie Witmer (Hoggard) both had strong days. Moerk was just off his PR of 15:58 and took 7th with a 16:02. Witmer has had a few off races since his PR at Wendy's, but bounced back well running 16:05 for 8th.
Cardinal Gibbons was missing their top guy Connor Lane who race at Great American, but Sam Grelck and Sam Thronton and Jared Eytcheson stepped it up big time in his absence. Eytcheson ran a 14 second PR taking 15th after a 63rd place finish at adidas two weeks ago and was certainly the X-factor for them.
Michaela Reinhart (Lexington Catholic, KY) took off early on in the race and broke away from the field with her sight locked on a fast time. Behind her a pack former with Macki Walsh (Etowah, GA) and Mari Cagle Lockhart (Daniel, SC) leading the charge. Marissa Bishop and Katharine Priu (Cardinal Gibbons) sat just behind with Jessie Crowley (Riverside, SC), Cate Ambrose (Riverside, SC) and Kaylee DuPont (South Forsyth, GA).
Reinhart continued to push the pace through the 2 mile and she was just racing the clock. Priu emerged in front of the chase pack and made a move to pull ahead. Walsh, Dupont and Lockhart all remained in striking distance with Bishop falling behind a tad.
Reinhart closed hard and was the only girl to break 18 on the day running 17:57 in what I imagine was a Footlocker South preview. Priu was able to outlast the field for 2nd with a 30 second PR of 18:18 with Walsh just behind in 18:21 edging out DuPont who ran 18:21 as well for 4th. Bishop took 6th in 18:26, which is her fastest time since her freshman year.
Riverside (SC) were too much for Gibbons to handle placing 5 in the top 26 despite Gibbons finishing 2-6-11 up front. But if Gibbons has their #1 from Knights Crossing Sloan Walter, who is still getting over an illness from two weeks ago and Molly McGowan who was their 5 at Knights Crossing, I think the outcome changes. Chapel Hill girls were just 20 points back of Gibbons in 4th, but in the combined scores with only NC teams they were just 3 points behind Cardinal Gibbons!
Other Notable Performances
Providence girls ran the best we've seen from them all season winning the Girls Open race by 63 points over Laney. Their top 4 were all under 19:50 and were lead by a 3rd place finish from Lindsey Lanier.
Natalie Tyner (Laney) rolled an 18:16 for the second fastest time on the day, winning the Open Race by nearly a minute.
Cary Boys took 2nd in the Open Race with a 42 second spread from their 1-6.
Weddington girls got revenge on cross town rivals Cuthbertson in the Girls 3A race 67-75. They were lead by a 19:01 from Sarah Bechtel which was a 30 second PR for her.
Mariah Howlett (LNC) looked like she was shot out of a cannon and had a huge lead at the halfway mark in the 3A Race. She held on to run a 21 second PR of 18:21 and steal the school record from teammate Izzy Evely.
Lake Norman Charter girls beat out regional for Brevard in the 3A race as they finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
Hayden Blalock (Providence) is back and healthy once again as he won the Junior/Senior JV race in 17:08. This is certainly not the best performance we will see from him so far this year, but a great indicator to see him healthy once again.