Recap: NCRunners Middle School XC Festival


North Carolina Middle School Rankings


Kernersville, North Carolina - Saturday morning the top middle school teams and clubs battled it out at Ivey Redmon Sports Complex for the NCRunners Middle School XC Festival.  The event serves as the state championship for middle school teams and individuals and is only open to North Carolina athletes.

Kicking off the action in the morning was the Boys Championship race.  Eighth-grader Joshua Palmer of Parkwood Middle School had gone 7 for 7 in winning races this season and did the same on Saturday leading the way over the 2 Mile course in 10:35.  Palmer's mark was just 4 seconds off Cam Kuss' meet and course record from last years event and sits him second in both metrics.  Gavin Clewley of Without Limits Triangle was able to pull away from Ryan Wulinsky (Marvin Ridge Middle), Nathan Vo (Without Limits Triangle) and Raymond Halstead Jr (Mooresville, NC) to round out the top 5 finishers.  

The top 15 below were awarded All-State in the Boys Championship race. 

Lewisville Middle School won the Boys School Team Championship with 44 points led by 6th grader Eli Sloop and 8th grader Noah Dexter finishing 8th and 9th respectively both in 11:12.  Cuthbertson MS would hold off Union County rivals Marvin Ridge MS for 2nd with 73 points.

Without Limits Triangle claimed their second consecutive title scoring 26 points on the club side with Run Cabarrus taking 2nd with 48 points.

In the girls Championship race it was 8th grader Kaitlyn Estep from Without Limits Triangle defending her title shattering her own course record running 11:19 for 2 Miles.  Estep had run 18:11 this season at Great American for 5K and has proven over the last two years to be one of the best middle schoolers in North Carolina history and currently one of the best in the country.

Estep improved on her 11:37 mark earlier in the year from Friday Night Lights as well as her winning mark from a year ago of 11:51.  While it's only year two of the event's history it's likely a meet record that'll last for a long time.

Weddington MS' Emma Balaban took home second place the second-fastest mark in course history.  Elle Dawson (High Point Blaze) finished 3rd just off her personal best of 11:41 clocking 11:44 just outkicking a tight battle with Cali Townsend (Watauga Middle) and Grace Krafchek (Weddington MS) who ran 11:45 and 11:47 respectively.  The entire top 5 was faster than Estep's mark in 2022 and each sits in the Ivey Redmon top 5 marks at the facility.

The top 15 below were awarded All-State in the Girls Championship race. 

Marvin Ridge Middle School girls posted a strong performance on the girls side scoring 37 team points led by Savannah Gentille finishing 8th overall and Madelyn Rankin 10th overall.  Marvin Ridge had just a 46-second 1-5 spread and a team average of 12:40.  

Watauga Middle School narrowly edged Cuthbertson MS for second by a single point 73-74!  The race was as close as you could ask for the final spot on the podium.

Cuthbertson's 3rd runner was just 2 seconds ahead of Watauga's 3rd, Watauga's 4th runner was just 1 second ahead of Cuthbertson's 4th, and Watauga's 5th was just one spot and 5 seconds ahead of Cuthbertson's 5th and 6th runners.  

On the Club side, Without Limits Triangle defended their team title scoring 25 points with High Point Blaze taking 2nd overall with 47 points.

Wrapping up the competition was the grade-level races with one for each grade.  Nate Lauten (Revolution Academy) won the boys 8th-grade race in 12:29 while Sarah Reynolds of Wake Prep Academy won on the girls side in 12:55.  

Parkwood's Adelyn Hamblin won the girls 7th grade race in 13:42 with Elliott Salinas (Andrews, NC) won on the boys side in 11:41.

Clay McLean of Carolina Liberty Running Club won the boys 6th & under race in 12:21 as High Point Blaze's 4th grader Devora Sahale clocking 13:21 for the win on the girls side!