The NCHSAA 3A boys field will be the biggest of them all this weekend with 189 athletes competing consisting of 23 teams and 24 qualifying individuals.
It should be a crowded race up front with Jack Dingman (North Lincoln), Jake Toomey (Weddington), Avery Cannon (Watauga) and Jacob Gallant (Mount Tabor) all having seasons best within 4 second of each other each coming from WakeMed.
The four raced at the adidas XC Challenge where Toomey was just narrowly ahead of his 3A rivals.
|7||Jake Toomey||12||Weddington High School||15:25.20||7|
|9||Jacob Gallant||12||Mount Tabor||15:29.80||9|
|10||Jack Dingman||11||Northern Guilford||15:36.50||10|
Dingman would run 15:24 just a few weeks later on the same course ranking him atop 3A time wise heading into the meet. That same weekend Toomey would out-kick a Wendy's field that included Cannon and Gallant.
This weekends race should be different from those as these athletes are all certainly familiar with each others abilities and it should be all about strategy and adapting.
It'd be a surprise if Dingman didn't try to make it an honest pace from the gun. We've seen him do so in XC and on the track over the last three years. Toomey has 1:53 800m speed while the rest of the field are stronger over longer distance.Gallant's best days of his career thus far have come at the state championships. He was 3rd in 3A XC last year after finishing 4th in his region the week before. He'd then go on to earn 2nd place finishes indoors and outdoors in the 3200m. His success at state meets has been incredible over the last year, but I'm sure it's made him even more hungry for a individual state title of his own.
Cannon was 25th in the 3A field a year ago and has put together an incredible senior campaign. He's been in the mix in every race he's run and been a few seconds away from big wins in a number of major invitationals. Could his time come tomorrow morning?
Toomey has been a major part of Weddington's team success in cross country and on the track the last few seasons. Last year he was the 6th man at states finishing 28th after an up and down season. This year he's been a different runner having great consistency over the course of the season with one of the best finishes of any North Carolina athlete.
Team wise, Chapel Hill boys look strong coming in. They don't have a star and have had a different top runner throughout the course of the season. On the year, Chapel Hill's 1-5 gap is just 24 seconds. It's a similar team that we saw win the 2016 3A title as Chapel Hill score 86 points with just a 17 second gap from first to fifth runner.
Ben Hawley, Owen Rogers, Max Reisinger, Emil Arangala and freshman Yichen Sun make up the Tigers' top 5. Hawley has been there top guy at states the last two years finishing 16th as a freshman and 10th as a sophomore. They were 3rd in 2017, 2nd in 2018 and have had all eyes on the team title for the entire year.
Weddington boys are defending champions despite only returning their 6th and 7th runners from last years state meet. As a program they're super deep with 21 athletes under 17:30 and 13 under 17. They'd likely be able to send three different teams to the state meet if that was allowed.
They'll have Toomey as a low stick and a likely pack of runners from their 2nd through 7th man. Wesley Larson, Caden Townshend and Sam Sanneman are coming off their best race of the season at regionals as they each earned a top 10 finish and a new seasons best. With Toomey up front, Weddington will need their 2-5 to try and break up Chapel Hill's pack this weekend.
Watauga, Cuthbertson and D.H. Conley should be in a battle for 3rd and possibly 2nd if Chapel Hill or Weddington have an off day. Watauga have the best 1-2 in the field with Cannon and sophomore Gavin Sweeney. They have 5 boys sub 17, but need the gap from their 3 to 4th and 5th runners to shrink tomorrow. Cuthbertson had a great day at the regional meet through 4 runners, but will need a 5th man to emerge at the state meet. D.H. Conley had a great day winning the 3A East Regional with sophomore Nathan Geyer having a breakout race. They'll hope to carry that momentum forward into state meet weekend.