Last year Mariah Howlett (Lake Norman Charter) looked to be a lock for the 2A crown, but picked up an injury through the regional meet. This year she's back, but has some stiff competition in teammate Izzy Evely. They've both beaten each other this year, but Howlett has the top time of 18:07 while Evely has run 18:16. I do expect them to take the pace from the gun in hopes of securing a 1-2 finish for LNC.
Defending champion Anna-Kathryn Kilby (Forbush) won't let this this title go without a fight. She's run 18:41 this year, and it wouldn't surprise me if she rose to the occasion as she did all last year in state championship races. Someone who you probably have forgotten about it Alex Rodman (First Flight). Rodman was a stud on the track last year running 2:13 and 5:09 as a junior. She's more suited for the track than the cross country course, but she has a winning mentality. She's dominated local competition this year and I think she's in the mix tomorrow and could pull a big upset on the big stage.
Freshman Emma Luther (Eastern Randolph) broke out at the 2A Mideast reigonal. She's undefeated this year, though the impressive time didn't come until last week where she ran 18:53. Prior she'd run 20:01 and hadn't broken 21 other than that despite winning every race. Has she realized how good she could be after that regional win and go after the individual crown tomorrow? Also Chandler Mccaslin (North Lincoln) has run 18:51 this fall. She's battled with the LNC duo at the conference and regional level and is coming off a year where she was 7th overall in 3A. She should be a top 5 finisher tomorrow.
Two years in a row Lake Norman Charter girls have been the team favorites heading into the state championships. Twice they were beaten by Brevard, once narrowly, once with a Howlett injury that might not have changed things in the end. This year they're back powered by their 1-2 punch of Howlett and Evely. They've beaten rivals North Lincoln at the conference and regional level, but don't have much room for error as they don't have depth beyond their 5th. But this is the strongest top 5 LNC has had entered a state meet over the last four years.
North Lincoln has a strong 1-2-3 in Mccaslin, Angie Allen and Alyssa Galvin. They need big days from their 4/5 if they want to win the team title. Durham School of the Arts is also in contention. They're lead by Emma Humphrey and have the best 5th girl in the field according to our virtual meet. The posted a very impressive day at the regional meet beating Carrboro and NCSSM 30 to 56 to 61. If they run like the did last week they're in contention to win the whole thing. Carrboro and NCSSM are also going to be in contention, but both need to have a little improvement from 3 to 5.
Can we count of two time defending champs Brevard? No way. They enter this meet ranked 6th in the virtual meet, but the last two years they weren't the favorites and came out on top. They'll need things to swing their way tomorrow though and will need top girl Ava Findlay to be on her A-game. They've got great coaching and seem to always peak at the right time, so don't be surprised if Brevard is on the podium tomorrow.