NCISAA 4A Boys Preview: 5 Contenders, 1 Team Title

We're in for a treat tomorrow on a blazing fast, but challenging WakeMed course in Cary for the NCISAA 4A State Championships at 12:45.  

The story in the NCISAA 4A Championship race is the team battle with 5 teams with a shot to bring home the team title tomorrow.  They are all separated by just 22 points in our season-long rankings.  Additionally the second through fifth-ranked teams are only separated by 5 points! 

Christ School comes in as the top-ranked teams and will get the nod as the favorites as defending champions with top returner and frontrunner of the contenders in Dawson Reeves.  The Greenies hold the best 1-5 average on the year of 16:17 and come into the meet after a dominating performance from the CAA Championships scoring 25 points going 1-2-6-7-9.  Reeves will contend with North Raleigh Christian's Tyler Surface for the individual title.  Reeves holds a seasons best of 15:06 while Surface has run 14:56 on this same WakeMed course, which is his local track.

Surface holds a sole head-to-head victory on the year back in mid-September at adidas XC Challenge where he ran 14:58 to Reeves 15:16.  Surface has had a great senior cross country season so far and has been amongst the top in North Carolina at every major meet this season.  While Surface has seemed to be the favorite for the state title since adidas for the 4A title, Reeves has great credentials with a 1:52 800m, 4:08 1600m and 8:57 3200m from his junior year.  I'd expect Surface to want to push the pace and ensure he breaks Reeves before ascending the long hill to the finish at WakeMed.  Reeves has the much better sprint if it came down to it and will be an exciting battle between two different types of distance runners.

The Greenies will have Eyob Gill in the mix as well to contend for a top 5 spot.  The senior has run 15:49 this cross country season and is the fifth ranked NCISAA 4A runner this fall.  He ran 16:03 on this course earlier this year, but would expect a faster mark to come tomorrow with a team title on the line.  Christ School's advantage against their competition will come from their top 2.  They have a strong 3-5, but they're very in line with the rest of the contending teams.

Last Tuesday Charlotte Country Day took down a tight battle for the CISAA Championships at McAlpine over Charlotte area rivals Covenant Day and Providence Day. 

1Charlotte Country Day School472+3+6+11+25 (28+29)1:39 1-5 Split | 16:43 Avg
2Covenant Day School511+5+10+17+18 (20+21)1:19 1-5 Split | 16:43 Avg
3Providence Day School524+9+12+13+14 (15+16)0:33 1-5 Split | 16:49 Avg


While not by much over the field, CCDS has the best third and fourth in the field and look to be close with Christ School to have the first with four through the finish.  Top two runners Cameron Brown and Luke Terrell come in ranked 7th and 8th respectively which was a big part of their narrow CISAA victory.  If CCDS is going to win it's going to be from a big deal from a fifth man.  David Harner has only raced three times this year, but holds track credentials of 4:38 and 10:09 showing he's capable of much more than we've seen from him this fall.  CCDS was 7th last year with a 17:23 average.  Just a year later they come in with an average of 16:37 and a shot to win.

Covenant Day and Providence Day come in ranked 3rd and 5th respectively, but both could be the first program with 5 runners through the line tomorrow.  Covenant Day has Colden Welsh up front who has had a pretty impressive season with a 15:24 on this WakeMed course, and individually won a strong CISAA individual title.  He ranks fourth on the year in the NCISAA 4A and is one that could stick it out up front with Surface and Reeves.  CDS holds a 16:32 1-5 average on the year and have a strong second runner in Ethan Welsh followed by a strong 3-4-5 pack that'll look to work together en route to a team title.

Providence Day lacks the low stick their competition has up front through 1st and 2nd runners.  They hold a 35-second 1-7 gap on the season and had the same gap last week at the CISAA Championship.  With a larger field, the Chargers could as a whole take a step up and steal the title through their depth.  They very well could have 7 runners through the finish before everyone else's fifth and walk away with a team title, or end up fifth.  Though, they could have more upside than the rest of the field working as a team and all taking a step up together.

The local school in Cary Academy ranks fourth coming in and placed 6 in the top 9 of the TISAC Championship last Thursday at WakeMed scoring just 28 points.  Sophomore Kavi Gibson ranks 2nd coming in with a 15:22 and ranks third just ahead of CDS' Welsh in the NCISAA 4A so far this season.  They hold a 16:33 average on the year, but just a 45 second gap from 2nd through 6th runners.  So similar to Providence Day, if Gibson can score low points up front and their 2nd through 6th man can work together they've got a path to NCISAA gold tomorrow.