The talent in North Carolina is at an all-time high. And it was proven true Thursday evening in St. Louis, Missouri at the HOKA Festival of Miles.
Charlotte Bell (Cuthbertson) is coming off wins at the NCHSAA 4A State Championship in the 800m and 1,600m. She was looking for a field, alongside her teammate Stella Kermes, that could really push them to another level. We all knew she was firing on all-cylinders. She posted a 4:43.27 1,600m personal best at the state meet.
In a field that included multiple state champions from across the country, Bell and Kermes were ready to roll.
The whole field was packed up for the first half of the race, with almost no separation between the leaders and last-place.
The leader crossed the half mile in 2:22.11, Bell was 2:22.67, and last-place was right there crossing halfway at 2:24.61.
That is where Bell dug down and trusted her training. She was one of two athletes to go under 1:10 her 3rd lap, and it pulled her into the lead with a familiar face from Flower Mound, Texas, whom they've seen at nationals in the relays.
She dug down even deeper on the final lap, getting under 1:09, and finishing the full mile in 4:41.33.
4:41.33 is good for NC No. 3 all-time. Kermes hung on strong and finished 4th in 4:42.90 (NC No. 4 all-time). The best part? This duo will be returning in 2024 to chase the overall state record of 4:38.59 from Ryen Frazier in 2015.
Rocky Hansen has been on fire this year, even dating back to last track and field season. The Wake Forest signee took to the track to chase the win, and his second sub 4:00 mile of his career. The field was loaded, with multiple runners having already broken 4:00, or were within strides of the feat. The field set the pace early and Hansen was content with waiting for his striking moment. They went through quarter-mile in :59, and the half-mile in 1:59/2:00.
By that point, Hansen had established himself at the front of the pack. Remember, Hansen dropped a 1:50.85 for the 800m at RunningLane, so he has those jets in him, but would he be able to reach down and power them on one more time? He did.
Him and Simeon Birnbaum (Rapid City Stevens, SD) were off to the races. Birnbaum barely got the win in 3:57.53. But he and Hansen brought four total boys under the 4:00 barrier with them.
Hansen held on for an amazing runner-up finish, where he, for the 3rd time, broke the North Carolina state record in the mile. This time he clocked 3:58.23. It is the sixth fastest high school performance of all-time. Hansen now holds the state record in cross country 5000m, indoor 1000m, and outdoor mile and 2-mile.