Footlocker South Recap: North Carolina sends 3 Individuals on a trip to San Diego!

Girl's Seeded Race

The big names to watch among the North Carolina girls were Nevada Mareno, the reigning Foot Locker South runner-up, and Sara Platek, a perennial top-flight runner who had struggled to avoid injury at the end of previous seasons. Isabel Zimmermann also came in with a lot of momentum after a great postseason. All three were contenders to snag any of the ten spots at Nationals that were up for grabs on Saturday.

Mareno and Platek got out to a hot start, with Mareno seizing the lead early. She had the field by a step at the mile, and had pulled ahead even further by the time she came back around to the hill. Heading into the backstretch, Mareno had built a sizeable lead. Platek was hanging around, and not far behind was Melissa Zammitti of Davidson Day.

When she got back to the lake, Mareno had not managed to build her lead any further. Coming into the homestretch, a few girls from the chase pack broke away and began to close on the leader. However, Mareno had it timed just right, and was able to break the tape first in a time of 17:21.7. Platek came flying in at 17:45 for ninth place, while Zammitti picked off 12 runners over the last mile and just missed grabbing the last qualifying spot for nationals with her impressive 12th place finish, less than six seconds away from 10th.

Boy's Seeded Race

North Carolina lined up three runners who held personal bests that would have put them in the top 10 of last year's South regional. The senior Connor Lane (Cardinal Gibbons) held the fastest time of the three, having dipped below 15 minutes at Great American. Juniors Coleman Mitchell (Cary Academy) and John Tatter (RJ Reynolds) had bests of 15:21 and 15:24 respectively; both also on the quick WakeMed course.

Lane and Tatter lined up together and, after a restart, got off quickly. By the mile Lane had established himself near the front of the pack in second place. Tatter and Mitchell were hanging on not far behind. By the time the group got around to the bottom of the hill, Lane had pulled ahead to give himself a one stride lead over a strung out chase group that included Texas stars Sam Worley and Reed Brown.

Going into the lake, Lane held onto his slight lead. By the time he came back to the lake, he had grown it substantially. The group behind him was closing fast however, with Worley breaking away to take a shot at catching Lane down the stretch. Worley's kick proved to be too much for Lane, as Worley captured the win in 14:58. Lane finished just behind for a 14:59 second place finish, capturing a spot at the national championship in two weeks.

Lane was the only NC boy to book a ticket to San Diego. Tatter was unable to move up more than a couple of spots after the first mile, finishing in 17th place at 15:31.