The race went out as expected with the five individual favorites running stride for stride through the mile and up the hill to the halfway mark. Beyond was a lot of shuffling amongst the top 15 runners with no team having a significant advantage. We did see Neil Mosca ahead of the pack of his 4 Durham Academy teammates looking to contend as a low stick, and Cary Academy's 3 through 5 in the mix with PD's 2-5.
As the race continued it proved to be a repeat of the three man battle we saw last year between Coleman Mitchell (Cary Academy) , Noah Dolhare (Providence Day) and Ben Mitchell (FCDS) as they gained a slight advantage on Chase Coley (Cary Academy) and Andrew Hammel (Christ School). Dolhare was picking up the pace, but neither Ben or Coleman Mitchell (unrelated) were giving up any ground.
The boys hit about 800 meters to go approaching the final hill climb to the finish as Dolhare relinquished the lead to and it was a battle between Ben and Coleman just as we saw last year. These two boys rolled up the hill as Coleman was looking to make it three straight XC individual titles, and Ben was looking to improve on last years runner-up finish. The boys were side by side up the hill, though Coleman had a slight advantage on Ben. Coleman was able to fend off Ben narrowly through the finish line running 15:23.09 to Ben's 15:23.90! These boys were gassed as they crossed the line and really left everything out on the course.
Dolhare held on for 3rd scoring a low 3 team points for his Providence Day teammates not discouraged about the defeat, but focused on where his teammates were as the team title was what mattered most to him. Dolhare was 4 seconds off his PR running 15:40. Coley and Hammel came through the line in 15:54 and 15:57 respectively.
Dolhare soon saw freshman teammate Christian Landis having a monster day running 16:07, the fastest time in NC by a freshman this year, and also stealing Dolhare's Providence Day freshman record. Mosca was just behind having a career day running 16:07, a big seasons best. Just behind were PD sophomores Jason Krell and Adam Habas, each setting PRs of 16:13 and 16:19. Dylan Lamphier came up big for Cary Academy. The senior ran a 42 second seasons best stepping up when he had to. Providence Day's Andrew Riolo was not far behind them placing 14th overall and locking up the team scores as he placed ahead of Cary Academy's 4/5 slightly.
Cary Academy still had the best day they could have asked for and by far had their best performance on the season. Their 4/5 ran 16:36 and 16:38. But Providence Day didn't falter one bit finishing with 40 points and 5 guys under 16:35. Not many teams in NC can top that performance, as the Chargers now rank 6th overall in North Carolina through Friday. Cary Academy scored 50 points. They rank just behind Providence Day in the overall NC rankings at 7th overall. Durham Academy also had their best day of the year. Their top 5 average is the best in school history. If these youngsters out of Providence Day didn't step up and exceed expectations today they likely wouldn't have been team champions. This team battle certainly lived up to the hype.