Sasha Neglia (Dobyns Bennett, TN) headlines the girls field. Neglia was last years NXN Southeast Champion and ran 17:29 at Nike Cross Nationals last year. She's run 17:34 already this cross country season at Knights Crossing in Virginia and will be the favorite as she potentially eyes the Foot Locker South course for later in the cross country season.
Makena Gates (Creekview, GA) dipped under 18 minutes for the first time this season last week at the Warparth Invitational and ran her PR of 17:36 last year at Foot Locker South where she finished 11th overall.
This will make great competition for Topsail freshman superstar Kaitlyn Obremski who ran 17:54 at the Jungle Run a few weeks ago. She's been the one to push the pace so far in each race she's been in this season, so this should make for a fast race for her in good conditions at McAlpine. She'll also race against the defending NCHSAA 3A State Champion Madeline Hill (Cuthbertson) for the first time.
Hill took 3rd at Friday Night Lights earlier this month running 18:38. She's also defending champion at this meet after running 18:21 last year. She ran faster at FNL this year than last year by 13 seconds, so with a fast field I'd expect her in the low 18s tomorrow. This should also give us good indication on where the 3A field stands halfway through the XC season.
Sophie Spada (Charlotte Country Day) won the Championship Girls race at Eye Opener last weekend in a PR of 18:54. This will be a more competitive field as she'll face off against some of her biggest NCISAA 4A competition. Allison Hall and Stella Stringer (Durham Academy) went 1-2 at the NCISAA 4A State Meet a year ago as the three look to be the favorites early on in the season. Hall ran 19:38 on a muddy WNC course finishing 2nd earlier this year and should be under 19 this weekend.
The field also features Ryann Aycock (Cary Christian) and Paxton Chitty (Ashley) who ran 18:16 and 18:33 finishing behind Obremski at the Jungle Run. Both girls should contend for top 5 finishes this weekend.
Lake Norman's Maddie Huecker and Madeline Stolberg have been strong early in the season running 18:55 and 18:58 respectively. This is going to be a strong 1-2 punch for Lake Norman for years to come as they look for another big performance.
Cuthbertson girls are team title favorites coming in, but will be without senior Gabby Castro who is on a college visit this weekend. This will make things a little closer between Cuthbertson, Durham Academy and Dobyns Bennett this weekend who project to score 74, 107 and 113 points respectively in our virtual meet.
Each of these three teams have a girl who could place in the top 5 at least and as least a 2nd girl who should be in the top 15. Cuthbertson has great depth and even without Castro will be tough to beat this weekend. They project 4 in the top 20 if they're all in top form with freshman Alyssa Preisano having a strong year and Leah Helms and Kaitlyn St. Hilarie holds 18:16 and 19:17 seasons best.
Of the three teams I think it could be closer than it looks as whichever squad can get five girls through the line first will likely take home the team title.
Carolina Day girls will be in the mix as well, but look to have their team split somewhat in the Championship and Invitational race. But we'll see where the 5 time defending NCISAA state champions look at this point in the season.