Girls Invitational Recap
Heading into the race things looked to be pretty wide open up front with who was the favorite on the girls side. There was Sophie Faircloth (Reagan) who came in with the fastest PR, but plenty of other girls that were going to be in contention for the win. Freshman Carmen Alder (Pinecrest) came into high school with some really solid middle school PRs, but it was hard to tell where she'd match up on the high school scene.
Immediately Alder went to the front and began to push the pace. With older competitors not familiar with this girl up front they let her go and were happy to run in a pack of 6 sitting a little ways back. This group was lead by Faircloth and had Sarah Parrish (Providence), Anna Kathryn-Kilby (Forbush), Alexis McDonnell (Hough), Izzy Evelyn (LNC) and Sarah Bechtel (Weddington). Once the headed down the hill, Alder continued to push her lead as Faircloth broke off from the second group with Kilby and Parrish in chase.
Alder continued to lead, but with this being her first race at McAlpine she took a wrong turn which cost her 15-20 seconds according to spectators that saw. Despite that, she still was able to run a NC#1 mark of 18:33.79 breaking the Pinecrest school record and immediately establishing herself as a contender for the 4A Individual title. Even with taking a wrong turn Alder's 18:33 would have placed her 36th at Foot Locker South last fall. North Carolina has found our next star, and I'm super excited to see what's next for Alder.
Faircloth was able to hold on for 2nd running 18:44 with McDonnell making up ground to take 3rd in 18:52! McDonnell's PR coming into this meet was 20:08. Sarah Parrish was just behind McDonnell running a PR of 18:53 becoming the frontrunner Providence girls needed. Kilby was just behind in 5th at 18:54, a very strong opener for her.
In 6th place was Sarah Bechtel leading Weddington to a massive team win. Her 19:07 was the Warriors top time of the weekend with their 5th girl placing 18th running 19:30. The Warriors came into the season ranked 5th in our Flo50 Preseason Rankings, but proved that they're much better than that with an insane 1-5 gap. The Warriors scored 62 points with Green Hope having a great day from their top 4 that all placed in the top 21. Top girl Kelsey Vogel took 7th overall running 19:09. I think if the Falcon's add in a healthy Alessandra Rodriguez they'd finish just a little off of Weddington.
Providence girls only had 5 girls finish, but were able to take 4th overall with 137 team points. Reagan girls were impressive as well without #2 girl Ainsley Cooper taking 5th with 151 points. Pinecrest girls could also be a sleeper team this fall taking 6th with 170 points. With the addition of Alder the should be on everyone's radar this fall.
Boys Invitational Race
Sam Gilman (Hilton Head) come into the race as the favorite,
but ran conservatively through the first half of the race. No one really took command up front as the
majority of the field was pretty much in contention as they got to the
hill. Dakota Mendenhall (Forbush),
Brandon Hernandez (A.L. Brown), Gilman were heading a pack that went into the
hill with literally 30 boys just off their back.
Mendenhall made his move up the hill and NCHSAA 2A rival Brian Risse went with him as the field began to string out slightly. Hernandez sat in 3rd with Kyle Durham (Weddington), Will Mazur (Weddington) and Gilman in 4th through 6th. Green Hope had 3 boys in the top 10 despite not running their top 7 as the runners went around the lake for the first time. Though Weddington looked to be the first with 5 men through the first half of the race.
Sam Gilman used his track speed to reel in Mendenhall and clocking 15:45 earning a new PR. Mendenhall also was able to run a new PR as he held on for 2nd in 15:52, a new NC#1 at this point in the season. We're going to see a lot of strong performances from him this fall. Kyle Durham rolled through the line taking 3rd with a big PR as well running 16:04 ahead of Noah White (Eastside, SC). Russell Engle (Providence) had a big last mile emerging from the big pack of runners to take 5th in 16:11. Engle needs to be on everyone's radar's after a big track season and a strong season debut. Hernandez fell back to 6th in a strong performance of 16:13 with Brian Risse taking 7th just behind. Elliott Schultz (Providence) possibly had the most impressive performance of the day clocking 16:19 for 8th overall. This is massive for the Providence boys team.
A performance that shouldn't go unnoticed is Murphy Smith (Ardrey Kell) who took 16th in his high school debut clocking 16:33. He was strong fot Fit 180 during his middle school days and will make an immediate impact for the Knights as a freshman.
Similarly to the girls, Weddington boys dominated the competition placing 5 underclassman in the top 20 scoring 60 points as a team with a 16:25 average and :32 second split. I think it's safe to say the Warriors proved they're going to be tough to be in 3A this fall. We ranked the Warriors 5th despite returning the 10th best time in our database, but they proved we still might have underestimated them. Green Hope was third overall, three points behind Hilton Head with 115 points. The Falcon's had their 5th man take 35th overall. This is extremely impressive as this was not Green Hope's varsity team. Though I think one or two will have the chance to crack the top 7 this year it isn't going to be an easy feat.
Providence boys took 4th with 128 team points. As we though in the preseason XC countdown Providence is just two runners away from being really strong. But their top 3 were more impressive than I predicted. North Lincoln boys solidify themselves as the 2A favorites this season taking 5th with 146 team points. Ardrey Kell was impressive as well in 7th beating a couple of preseason top 25 teams.