It was perfect conditions on Saturday morning in Cary, North Carolina for the running of the 2021 Great American XC Festival.
WakeMed Soccer Park played host to over 1,700 athletes traveling in from 15 states and whom were eager to chase new personal best times. With loaded fields in the Race of Champions on both sides, this meet had the makings to be one of the fastest we see in the southeast this season.
Sam Rich (Catawba Ridge, SC) was the headliner in the Boys Race of Champions after his US No. 1 time of 14:38 a few weeks ago at The Southern Showcase.
As the field made their way up the hill for the first time right after the opening mile, Rich stayed patient in the lead pack.
The field crossed the 3,200m mark in 9:44 as Rich started to pull away from the group. As the athletes came up the hill for the final time, Rich had finally pulled away from Ryan Motondo (Walter Williams, NC) and it was him versus the clock. He came storming down the home straight away and took the victory in 14:59. He became the 23rd runner in Great American History to break 15:00 at the event.
Motondo held strong and finished in a new NC No. 1 time of 15:09. That mark is good for NC No. 27 all-time!
Tyler Canaday (Severna Park, MD) had a huge break-out performance. The senior entered the day with a 3-mile personal best of 15:37. He shattered that Saturday as Canaday clocked 15:10 for 5000m. That time is good for MD No. 6 all-time!
Will Soule (Mount Tabor, NC) delivered a big time performance finishing 4th with a huge personal best of 15:14, which is NC No. 2 this season behind Motondo. James May (Marietta, GA) was 5th in 15:16 and Jimmy Mullarkey (Fern Creek, VA) was 6th in 15:17.
Jacob Laney (Porter Ridge, NC) was 8th in 15:23 and Elliott Kleckner (South Central, NC) rounded out the top ten in 15:26. Rocky Hansen (Christ School, NC) was 12th in 15:28. Laney and Hansen were the only two non-seniors in the top fifteen.
|CHAMPIONSHIP BOYS 5000 METER RUN FINALS|
|1||Sam Rich||12||Catawba Ridge HS||14:59.80||1|
|2||Ryan Motondo||12||Williams, Walter M||15:09.50||0|
|3||Tyler Canaday||12||Severna Park High School||15:10.00||2|
|4||Will Soule||12||Mount Tabor||15:14.90||3|
|5||James May||12||Marietta High School||15:16.90||4|
|6||Jimmy Mullarkey||12||Fern Creek||15:17.40||0|
|7||Graham Mussmon||12||Loudoun Valley||15:22.50||5|
|8||Jacob Laney||11||Porter Ridge||15:23.30||0|
|9||Cooper Michaud||12||Classical High School||15:24.40||0|
|10||Elliott Kleckner||12||South Central||15:26.80||0|
Severna Park was the first team to have its No. 2 runner cross the line, as senior James Glebocki finished 14th. Mount Tabor's No. 2, Douglas Gledhill, was right on his tail, however, and finished 16th. Severna Park took the early advantage as its third runner, Eddie Sullivan, secured 18th place.
Mount Tabor had a 20 second split between their 3-5 runners which proved too much for Severna Park. Davis Potter finished 28th in 15:53, with teammates Lucas Pitt and Andrew Burrell finishing 42nd and 48th respectively.
|1||Mount Tabor||100||3+11+20+30+36 (96+104)||0:59 1-5 Split | 15:49 Avg|
|2||Severna Park High School||105||2+9+12+39+43 (51+58)||1:08 1-5 Split | 15:48 Avg|
|3||Hardin Valley Academy||166||24+27+29+42+44 (75+127)||0:21 1-5 Split | 16:07 Avg|
|4||Cumberland||204||10+17+47+62+68 (106+128)||0:59 1-5 Split | 16:10 Avg|
|5||Bolles HS||214||18+37+40+54+65 (90+103)||0:41 1-5 Split | 16:15 Avg|
|6||Weddington High School||234||21+45+48+59+61 (69+110)||0:32 1-5 Split | 16:17 Avg|
|7||La Salle Academy||238||6+14+60+63+95 (98+130)||1:31 1-5 Split | 16:14 Avg|
|8||Bishop Hendricken HS||241||19+49+50+53+70 (112+122)||0:43 1-5 Split | 16:19 Avg|
|9||Marietta High School||244||4+22+57+79+82 (116+141)||1:30 1-5 Split | 16:13 Avg|
|10||Loudoun Valley||251||5+38+55+76+77 (78+131)||1:17 1-5 Split | 16:15 Avg|
In the end, the pack of Mount Tabor boys made the difference as the Spartans took down Severna Park, 100-105.
The girls Race of Champions field refused to be outshined by the boys and produced five new U.S. top 25 performances this season.
Ciara O'Shea, of Madison Central (KY) went straight to the lead and brought the whole field with her. It was O'Shea and The Webb School's (TN) Abby Faith Cheeseman leading the pack through 2,000m in 6:45. Eighteen girls were under 7:00 at the 2,000m split.
There was a 75 point spread in 1st-7th in the team race at 2,000m, with over half the race to go things can get shaken up very quickly. At 2000m, the 1-2-3-4 was Weddington, NC, Morgantown, WV, and Cuthbertson, NC, and Cambridge Christian, FL.
The top six started to separate from the field after the 3,200m. The new lead group consisted of O'Shea, Cheeseman, East Greenwich's (RI) Reese Fahys, Morgantown's (WV) Irene Riggs, Brownsville's (PA) Jolena Quarzo and Moon Area's (PA) Mia Cochran. Of the top six, Cochran was the only senior.
As they made their way up the hill for the final time, O'Shea and Fahys started to pull away. O'Shea turned on the jets over the final 200m and crossed the line victorious in 17:08, a US No. 14 time this season. Fahys held on for second in 17:12, US No. 21 this season.
Cheeseman managed to pull away from Ruggs and Quarzo and crossed in third in a US No. 23 effort of 17:15. Ruggs out-leaned Quarzo and took fourth in a US No. 24 mark of 17:17.10. Quarzo also ran 17:17.10 and took fifth in a new US No. 25 performance.
Northwood's (NC) Caroline Murrell finished 10th in a new NC No. 1 time of 17:52. Cardinal Gibbons freshman Hannah Rae Shaffer was 12th in 17:57 and moved up to No. 8 on the all-time North Carolina freshman list.
|CHAMPIONSHIP GIRLS 5000 METER RUN FINALS|
|1||Ciara O'Shea||11||Madison Central||17:08.90||0|
|2||Reese Fahys||11||East Greenwich High School||17:12.30||1|
|3||Abby Faith Cheeseman||9||The Webb School||17:15.20||0|
|5||Jolena Quarzo||11||Brownsville Area||17:17.10||0|
|6||Mia Cochran||12||Moon Area||17:18.00||0|
|8||Juliette Whittaker||12||Mount De Sales Academy||17:44.10||0|
|9||Elizabeth Gregory||12||Forest Park||17:50.10||0|
Weddington came back strong and put its top four in front of the next Cambridge Christian runner. Elizabeth Ritter was able to disrupt the Cambridge trio and finished 17th. Emma Jones and Grace Hanson came in 26th and 27th for Weddington respectively.
The difference maker was Cambridge Christian's No. 5 runner, who scoring 76 points, compared to Weddington's 49 points from its No. 5.
Weddington took the win over Christian Cambridge, 120-123. The battle for third was tight but it was Howard who took third with 149 points over Morgantown's 152 points, and Cuthbertson's 153 points.
|1||Weddington High School||120||9+18+19+25+49 (80+134)||1:11 1-5 Split | 18:46 Avg|
|2||Cambridge (Christian) School||123||5+6+10+26+76 (98+122)||2:05 1-5 Split | 18:39 Avg|
|3||Howard High School||149||20+22+33+34+40 (128+148)||0:33 1-5 Split | 18:56 Avg|
|4||Morgantown||152||2+13+38+43+56 (58+73)||2:17 1-5 Split | 18:45 Avg|
|5||Cuthbertson High School||153||7+15+21+36+74 (91+111)||1:54 1-5 Split | 18:55 Avg|