NCRunners Elite XC Brings The State's Best To Kernersville

The NCRunners Elite XC Invitational returns to the state meet course, Ivey Redmon, once again in 2022 for what is sure to be an elite morning of racing. Big-time team and individual matchups headline the 2,000 person field.  The NCRunners Elite XC Invitational is known for the unofficial underclassmen/JV state championship. The fields for each race aren't known until they line up at the start line, so we will treat the top of the preview as one big championship field.

Let's take a dive into the entries and break it down. 

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Looking at the girls' field, the star power speaks for itself. Chandler Welsh (R.J. Reynolds '24) has been on fire this season, and looks to keep it up this weekend with another impressive run over some of the best in North Carolina. Welsh's best of 17:44.70 is currently NC No. 3 on the season. She took 3rd place in the championship fields at both Friday Night Lights and the adidas XC Challenge. 

Kasey Dingman (Lake Norman '26) is the top freshman in the state. She has the 3rd best time in the field, a 17:59.00 from the adidas XC Challenge. She has backed it up with all sub 18:50 performances on the year, including the win at Hough XC Invitational

There's going to be a lot of yellow up front, as the Mount Tabor duo of Joiner Evans, Bronwyn Parks, and Eliza Brand have all found their groove this season. Evans ran her best at the adidas XC Challenge, a 17:52 performance that earned her 5th place. Parks was 7th at adidas, but ran her best time of 18:14 at Friday Night Lights, where she placed 5th. This Spartan duo is one of the best 1-2-3 punches we have in the state. Brand was 10th at adidas XC and 13th at Friday Night Lights. 

As a team, Mount Tabor will take on Cardinal Gibbons and West Forsyth.

Cardinal Gibbons' Hannah Rae Shaffer has only raced two 5000m's this season, a 4th place finish at Friday Night Lights, and a win at Hare & Hounds. Her best time overall is 17:19 from last year, and her best time at Ivey Redmon is 17:32.55.

West Forsyth uses a pack as well as any program in the state. They have a 46.60-second 1-5 split, which is the definition of elite. Their entire top five have season bests under 20:00, and they are led by junior Abby Reutinger and sophomore Lulu Serang.

Other notable athletes ready to make a splash in the field include Allie Zealand (Pacers Homeschool, VA '24), Sarah Fassinger (Reagan '25), Ryann Aycock (Cary Christian '23), and Molly Barber (Myers Park '26).


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On the boys' side, this is a huge opportunity for the top athletes in the field, and a win here would go a long way in confidence and momentum.  

Krister Sjoblad (Athens Drive '23) has only raced 5,000m twice this season, and he's been more than impressive both times out. He opened his season with a 3rd place finish at Friday Night Lights. He exploded just one week later at adidas XC Challenge with a 15:07 5th place finish in the championship field. He was the 2nd runner from North Carolina to cross the line. His adidas XC performance is NC No. 26 all-time. 

His teammate Noah Valyo is looking for a big performance of his own. The junior ran 9:06.61 for the 3,000m in August. That marked his arrival as a true competitor in the state. He was 9th at Friday Night Lights and 12th at adidas XC Challenge. He currently sits NC No. 7 this season.

Ian Rouse (Jordan '23) is having a break-out season of his own. The senior ran 15:17.70 at adidas XC Challenge, good for a 9th place finish and the current NC No. 5 mark. Rouse also won the 38th Annual Greensboro XC Invitational.

Zack Gilbertson (Pinecrest '23) hasn't raced an invitational since Friday Night Lights, but has been on a tear this season. He took home the win at the Providence Cross Country Invitational, clocking NC No. 9 15:29.60. He went on to place 2nd at Friday Night Lights in 15:33.20, as well.

We cannot forget about Friday Night Lights champion Marco Evans (Cary '23). He ran NC No. 13 15:31.10 and now once again gets a chance to race at Ivey Redmon.

A wildcard in this field is Harper Clark (West Johnston '23). He placed 10th at Friday Night Lights, 18th at adidas XC, and most recently took home the win at Bo Run, running NC No. 11 15:30.59.

The team battle may push some individuals into the top three, if not the win.

This is as close as we may get to a NCHSAA 4A state meet preview, with Broughton, Green Hope, Mount Tabor, Athens Drive, Charlotte Catholic, Jordan, Chapel Hill, among others all in the field. 


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Broughton took home the adidas XC Challenge title, led by a 15th-16th finish by Will Venable and Cooper Widmayer

Gavin Hansen (Green Hope '23) has the 4th best time in the field this season, a 15:28.90 13th place performance at adidas XC. He was also 16th at Friday Night Lights, in which the Falcons were victorious. They placed 5th at adidas XC Challenge.

Mount Tabor, led by Andrew Burrell, are ready to roll and are looking to get the momentum on their side as we approach the postseason. They were 4th at adidas XC Challenge, four points ahead of Green Hope. 

Athens Drive finished 3rd (tied for 2nd, lost on tie-breaker) at Friday Night Lights. Charlotte Catholic has a strong 1-2 punch in Ian Pierce and AJ Painter

The two top underclassmen in the field are Jack Anstrom (Seaforth '25) and Tate Shore (Reagan '25). If they match-up in the Frosh/Soph Championship, then that could make for an epic match-up.