Daniel Similton (Hickory Grove Baptist) came into the NCISAA 3A State Championships looking to be one of the top individuals. Just one year ago Similton placed 30th in the NCISAA 3A State Championships clocking 17:11.
His senior season he had proven to be in much better form running a seasons best of 16:24 at the Jungle Run in September. He had certainly been eyeing the individual title throughout the season.
Just one week ago at the MAC Championships he faced off against the NCISAA 3A's top seed in Matthew Fowler (Concord First Assembly). Fowler would go on to beat Similton by a wide margin winning in 16:31 to Similton's 17:27 giving him a ton of momentum heading into the state championship as the top dog.
Similton's 16:24 would rank him 5th heading into the race where it looked like it could be a five man race.
Similton told us earlier in the week he saw it was going to rain and instead of dreading the conditions he would have to compete in it only excited him. Despite a big loss to his biggest competition just 10 days prior he came in with the confidence that he would thrive in the mud.
Harrison Oswald (Carolina Day) would take out the pace as Similton, Fowler, Reece Collie (Asheville Christian) and Will Scott (FCDS) would hang on through the early stages of the race. As they reached the halfway mark of the race Similton and Fowler ran side by side with Collie in tow.
The conditions were brutal. Similton knew he'd have to be mentally strong and believe that he would be able to power through the last half of the race and his major goal of a state title could be achieved.
The two athletes ran side by side throughout the majority of the second loop doing their best to hold good footing on the sloppy course. They came to the finish of the second loop and the two boys were still close, but Similton looked to be in control of the race.
The two boys emerged onto the soccer field heading towards the finish line and Similton put it into another gear extending his gap on Fowler. Similton with a big smile on his face came through the line in 17:40 as the NCISAA 3A Cross Country Champion. Fowler would follow in 17:46 to take 2nd place.
|1||Daniel Similton||12||Hickory Grove Baptist Christian School||17:40.27||1|
|2||Matthew Fowler||12||Concord First Assembly Academy||17:46.08||2|
|3||Reece Collie||11||Asheville Christian Academy||17:56.70||3|
|4||Will Scott||10||Forsyth Country Day School||18:09.11||4|
|5||Jax Ledford||11||Asheville Christian Academy||18:25.95||5|
|6||Harrison Oswald||11||Carolina Day School||18:33.35||6|
|7||Nicholas Scrocco||10||Coastal Christian HS||18:34.89||7|
|8||Spencer Young||10||Asheville Christian Academy||18:35.89||8|
|9||Major Eason||12||Asheville School||18:58.04||9|
|10||Zach Moore||11||Forsyth Country Day School||19:01.80||10|
|11||Nicholas McConnell||11||Coastal Christian HS||19:03.16||11|
After a big loss at the conference championship a lot of athletes would maybe settle and contend for a top spot in Similton's situation. The senior did quite the opposite and continued to believe in himself and his training, and it all paid off as he earned his first NCISAA State Championship.
Similton has a lot to be proud of after a incredibly gutsy performance on Friday. He'll make history becoming the first cross country state champion for Hickory Grove Baptist.