The NCISAA returns to Hagan Stone Park in Greensboro for the running of the 2022 State XC Championships. We have multiple defending champions returning, along with some new faces ready to make their mark on the state. The action kicks off Friday at 9:00am with the 3A girls classification.
Christ School senior Rocky Hansen has been in the headlines all year, and rightfully so. The Wake Forest commit broke the North Carolina state record in the 5000m with a 14:20 run at the ASICS Invitational in Georgia. He has four sub 15:00 performances on the season, and he is fresh off a win at the CAA Conference Championship, and is the defending NCISAA 4A XC state champion. His Christ School Greenies went 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 at the conference championship, proving they're ready to roll come Friday. Teammate Dawson Reeves is NCISAA No. 2 this season with a 15:03 personal best. The duo went 1-2 at the 2021 state championship, helping lead Christ School to the team title. The Greenies return five of their top seven from their state title team, including Eyob Gill, Kahzi Sealey, and Luke Parrish. Add in newcomers Dallas Reeves and Will Peeler, the Greenies are as strong as ever. If everything goes to plan, Hansen and Reeves will go 1-2, they will walk away state champions once again.
They cannot afford to take it easy by any means, as there are multiple programs looking for their golden opportunity to reign supreme over the NCISAA 4A classification.
Cary Academy has been a pleasant surprise this season, and it is in part thanks to their freshman superstar Kavi Gibson. Gibson ran 15:39 at WakeMed to win the TISAC Championship. His time is U.S. Frosh No. 18 on the season. Gibson, as an 8th grader in 2021, was 3rd in the NCISAA 2A State XC Championship running for Carolina Friends School. He and Arran Swift both sit in the top ten in the NCISAA this season and will challenge the Christ School duo up front. As a team, Cary Academy won the TISAC Championship.
Finishing runner-up at TISAC was Durham Academy. Sanju Patel was runner-up and the senior ran a personal best of 15:53.10. Wyatt Benjamin, Ben Hornstein, and Zebee Jewell-Alibhai all placed top 10 at conference for Cary Academy.
Landon Roemer of Providence Day School has had some great performances this season. He was 4th at Friday Night Lights and won the CISAA Conference Championship.
Tyler Surface, a junior, is running the NCISAA State Championship for the first time after transferring to North Raleigh Christian this fall. Surface has a 15:19 best (NCISAA No. 3) and was all-state in the NCHSAA 4A classification last season. He and Sam Dewar give North Raleigh Christian a strong 1-2 punch.
On the girls' side, the team battle is tight. There are at least six teams you can argue should be the favorites going into the weekend.
Defending team champion Charlotte Country Day is ready to defend their title. They are led into battle by defending individual champion Kasey Cone. Freshman Sam Vanderhave has been an elite addition to this squad. She was 4th at the CISAA Conference Championship and was CCD's top finisher.
However, it was Charlotte Latin that took down the defending state champions, and are looking to do it once more on Friday. Helen Hurden is looking to cap off a dream senior season with a state title. In 2021, she had a 20:28 best and was 15th at her conference championship. Flash forward a year and Hurden has a best of 18:35 and is the CISAA Conference champion. Her Charlotte Latin squad is bringing a lot of experience, as their top four are all upperclassmen.
Annie Miller of Metrolina Christian Academy has been stellar this year. She was 4th at the Union County Championship and holds a personal best of 18:00.96 (NCISAA 4A No. 1) from the Beach Blast. She was 4th last year as a freshman in the state meet.
We cannot forget about TISAC Conference Champion Audrey Crowder and Durham Academy. The freshman ran 18:20.40 and is undefeated on the season. She has wins at the Greensboro XC Invitational and the Durham City-County Championship. Durham Academy won the TISAC Championship.
Also in the running are Elise Boyse and Cary Academy. Boyse was runner-up at the TISAC Championship and Cary Academy was runner-up as a team.
The X-Factor team is Providence Day School. Blane McElroy, Devin McElroy, and Carly Arrington all have extraordinary talent. They were runner-up in 2021 at the state meet and return four of their top seven from the event, including their 1-2 punch of Blane McElroy and Arrington, who went 2-5, respectively.
In the NCISAA 3A, defending champion Coastal Christian is a strong candidate to repeat. They return almost their whole squad from the 2021 championships. Defending champion Jack Sterrett has moved to Texas. They have the current NCISAA No. 1, 2, 3, and 5 times run by Thad O'Neill (16:08), Tyler Niloff (16:10), Sam Morgan (16:13), and Corban Cazier (16:26).
Cary Christian's James Callahan has the NCISAA No. 3 time (16:20.58).
On the girls' side, Cary Christian and Asheville School will have a rematch of the 2021 match-up where Asheville School won the state title.
Cary Christian's Tori Stonebraker is the defending state champion, however teammate Ryann Aycock has the NCISAA No. 1 time this season (18:00.00).
For Asheville School, they have two top ten returners from the 2021 state meet in Abby Smith (3rd) and Virginia Thorsen (9th).
In the NCISAA 2A classification, the individual returning champions have been almost untouchable all season.
Cruz Hesling (Westchester Country Day) ran 15:45.40 at Hare & Hounds and has a two-minute buffer on the next best runner this season in 2A.
The same goes for Trinity Academy of Raleigh sophomore Morgan Pennington. She was 15th at Friday Night Lights, 22nd at adidas XC, and 2nd at Greensboro XC Invitational. She has nearly a minute gap on the second best runner in 2A this season. Her squad won the state meet in 2021, and looks to do so again in 2022.
On the boy's side, Burlington Christian Academy has had a great season and looks to walk away state champions. BCA was runner-up to Davidson Day in 2021.
Alex Larson is the favorite to take home the individual title in NCISAA 1A, and lead his Grace Christian School (Sanford) squad to the title.
Grace Christian School (Sanford) looks to be the favorites in the 1A classification as well.