Yesterday was one of as close as it could be between Providence Day and Durham Academy for the NCISAA 4A boys crown. Providence Day entered the meet as the favorites scoring 37 points to Durham Academy's 62 in our virtual meet. They were also defending champions from last years NCISAA 3A State Championships.
Both schools were fresh off of CISAA and TISAC Conference Championships and were gunning for the elusive state title.
The 4A boys race was the final race of the day. The conditions were bad when the first race got underway, but after over 700 athletes had run the course earlier in the day your foot was submerged in mud with nearly every step.
From the start you could tell that Durham Academy had a plan and did not view themselves as the underdogs. Both schools had their respective packs following their coaches directions early in the race. As the concluded the first loop there was a group of three including Providence Day's Christian Landis and Christ School's Andrew Hammel and Joseph Visconti. Behind them Durham Academy sat 4-5 with Neil Mosca and Jay Shanahan followed by a pack of Durham Academy and Providence Day athletes with a few others sprinkled in.
At this point Durham Academy had the early advantage over Providence Day as they looked to have 5 ahead of Providence Day's 5 with a second loop to come.
They were looping back around and things remained the same through the front 5. Beyond that Providence Day had Jason Krell leading the chase group, and Andrew Riolo, John Smith and Colter Nichols were had pulled ahead of of Durham Academy's 4th and 5th man taking the advantage in the team scores.
At this point I thought to myself that Providence Day was looking like they were running away with it as predicted. But Durham Academy wasn't done.
Christian Landis was able to pull away from Hammel and Visconti taking the win in 17:17. Landis holds a PR of 15:25 to show how slow things ran yesterday at Jackson Park. Mosca and Shanahan finished not too far behind securing 4th and 5th. These boys knew they'd need to place two in the top five and especially ahead of Providence Day's #2 if they wanted a chance to pull off an upset.
Beyond that there was a mad dash to the finish line for 6th through 9th place. Cary Academy's Kenny Eheman and Luke Johnson were able to nab 6th and 7th respectively. One second beyond Johnson Tamer Metwalli (Cannon School) edged Krell by .05 seconds for 8th place in 18:00.46.
Durham Academy's 3rd and 4th man Mac Hays and Mark Alkins were battling with Nichols and Riolo of Providence Day despite trailing during the last mile and were able to nab 10th and 11th securing the last two All-State spots. This meant Durham Academy had 4 boys in ahead of Providence Day's #3. Nichols, Riolo and Smith were able to finish 12th through 14th respectively putting 5 Providence Day athletes in the chute.
Jack Anderson would finish 20th to put 5 in Durham Academy athletes through.
You couldn't know the exact team scores at the time, but you knew these programs were extremely close together.
Watching both teams after the race had ended you could tell they both had moments of excitement adding up the scores in their head thinking they'd won and lost.
The team scores were announced under the shelter at the park and athletes and parents were able to get out of the rain for a minute. It was as close as it looks as Providence Day edged Durham Academy 49 to 50. Just one point short. Cary Academy also had a strong day in 3rd place with 69 points finishing 6-7-15-18-23.
Providence Day would put together an 18:03 average while Durham Academy averaged 18:08 for their top 5. If the race had ended in a tie and went to 6th man the title woulds still go to Providence Day as Adam Habas took 16th overall.
These two teams are no joke. The times won't show it, but these two teams are some of the best the NCISAA has seen. Through todays NCHSAA Regional results Providence Day rank #8 overall in the state. Durham Academy ranks #17, but I think it's safe to say they would be a top 10 team if they were on a course with decent conditions yesterday.
It was a long day in the rain and mud at Jackson Park, but the athletes certainly made it all worth it for the fans willing to stand in the conditions and watch.