Between the adidas XC Challenge, Great American, and the NXN Southeast Regional the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary has seen a lot of great runners. Amongst them, Nevada Mareno (Leesville Road) holds the current course record of 16:36. Aisling Cuffe, Kelsey Chmiel, Ryen Frazier and Aislinn Ryan have been the five girls that have broke 17 minutes on the fast, but hilly course.
Katelyn Tuohy (North Rockland, NY) is more likely than not to shatter the course record. Two years ago Tuohy set the High School Indoor 5K National Record of 15:37. Her best 5K in cross country is 16:06.87 from a year ago at the Ocean State Invitational.
This WakeMed course is difficult with two long uphill climbs, but with a fast downhill start and perfect footing throughout the course it runs very fast. We haven't seen Tuohy race this year so don't know what kind of shape she's in, but if she's fit I don't think it's unrealistic to think a sub 16:10 or sub 16:00 is in the cards for one of the best high school cross country talents the nation has ever seen.
Beyond Tuohy, the individuals in the field are as deep as you can ask for with our favorite out-of-stater Jenna Hutchins (Science Hill, TN), Carmen Alder (Pinecrest, NC), Alyssa Hendrix (Riverview, FL), Tori Gaitan (Great Oak, CA), Bethany Graham (John Champe, VA), Tsion Yared (Pine Crest, FL) and Mary Caroline Heinen (Maggie Walker, VA).
Hutchin's is coming off a huge race at Nike Desert Twilight in Arizona where she ran a new overall PR of 16:38. She also set an Eye Opener course record earlier in September. As a freshman she was 9th at Footlocker Nationals and has proven to be in much better shape already this season. She ran 17:40 here for 5th a year ago, but should be in store for much faster tomorrow.
Carmen Alder has been phenomenal this season winning all three major invitational she's run in this season. She ran 17:36 two weeks ago at WakeMed and clocked her PR of 17:28 last year at the meet. In a race where she won't have to be leading from the gun she could be in store for a new PR tomorrow.
Per Nolan Jez of MileStat.com, Bethany Graham is chasing a sub 17 time. If she were able to achieve that goal she would be just the sixth Virginia athlete to ever go that fast and cement herself as one of the all-time greats. She's certainly in the right field to challenge the sub 17 barrier.
Alyssa Hendrix and Tsion Yared are two of Florida's best who will square off in what is a big battle within The Sunshine State. Yared clocked 17:39 here last year to place fourth, and should have a good shot to break her PR of 17:20 this weekend. Hendrix recently committed to NC State, so should certainly be riding some excitement to test out her future home course. Hendrix has run 17:41 so far this year and is a two time Foot Locker Nationals qualifier. She ran 17:24 at Foot Locker South a year ago.
Tori Gaitan will look to lead the Great Oak girls to a team title getting low points for the team with a likely top 5 finish in store. She was the CIF State Champion last year and also took home an 18th place finish at Foot Locker Nationals. Great Oak come in as the favorites and are ranked 10th in the MileSplit 50 Team Rankings. They're coming off an off day at Woodbridge where they took 3rd, but all eyes are likely on the postseason for them. They had a 31 second spread from 1-5 and a 17:15 3 Mile average. I'd expect they get back on track this weekend.
There are plenty of teams ready to challenge the favorites in Pine Crest (FL), Cuthbertson (NC), Loudoun Valley (VA) and Bolles (FL). Pine Crest has a strong top 2, but will need a strong day from their 3,4,5 in order to confirm their "On The Bubble" status in the national rankings.
Cuthbertson hasn't put their best together so far this season, but that's still proven to be very good. They'll be led by Madeline Hill and Gabby Castro who should be near the 18 minute mark with a solid race this weekend. They should have their top 7 all under 19 this weekend. Their NCHSAA 3A rivals Chapel Hill should be right with them this weekend after a win at the Greensboro Invitational last weekend.
Similar to the boys, we should see a big day from Loudoun Valley this weekend. They'll battle with in state rival Blacksburg to see who will be the top Virginia squad this weekend while also eyeing the team win. Both teams come in within 3 points of each other in the Virginia Team Rankings, as that should certainly be shaken up this weekend.
Marist girls are coming off a win at the Wingfoot XC Classic two weeks ago, and will look to improve on their 18:54 team average.