Championship Boys | Championship Girls | Invitational Boys | Invitational Girls | Open Boys | Open Girls
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This race had one of the smoothest starts of the day, as the field (smaller than in the Invitational or Open) got through the bottleneck 200m into the race just fine.
They went into the woods with Thomas Graham (Cary Academy) leading, but nobody else has clearly separated from the crowd yet.
After one time around the 1.3-mile loop, though, the field was strung out and the top runners had broken away, with Graham in command.
Sam Roberson (Broughton) had second place locked down halfway through, with a gap back to Cole Rains (TC Roberson) in third.
A little bit behind the front three came an extended first pack of runners led by Mitch McLeod (Chapel Hill).
Tim Gruber (Cannon) and Peter Vandenberg (Watauga) were also in strong position midway through the race.
The team situation was very unclear at this point, as this group contained two runners each from Chapel Hill and Myers Park,
as well as the second runners for Broughton, Cary Academy, and TC Roberson.
Chapel Hill was the first team with three runners past the midpoint, but all the 4th and 5th runners were duking it out in the crowds behind.
After another turn through the woods and a second trip up Horseshoe Hill (flooded by cheering crowds),
the runners had a long, lonely final stretch of woods before emerging with about 800 to go.
Graham looked strong as he crossed all alone in 15:12, a new course record and the #1 time in the US this young season.
Roberson held his position, while Godwin climbed 5 spots in the second half to end up third.
Rains held onto fourth place, with McLeod fifth, while Ben Huffman (Providence Day) moved up a bunch to secure sixth.
Vandenberg finished in a consistent eighth, while Gruber faded a bit to 9th place.
That's where things really started to heat up at the finish line:
Jack Matkins (Myers Park) completed the top ten individuals, and everyone turned their attention to the battle for team supremacy.
The runners began to hit the finish line rapidly, and some hit the ground after slipping on the grass while stopping.
Broughton had their second runner in before Watauga, Chapel Hill, and Myers Park.
Broughton's third also made it home before Chapel Hill's, while Roberson's runners began to surge and Myers Park tailed off just a bit.
Then it got REALLY crazy at the finish, as exhausted runners began to stack up, and it was hard to keep up with what was going on.
Broughton had the win locked up at the 5th runner, despite losing to Chapel Hill at the 4th.
TC Roberson's late surge got them into third place, while Cary Academy rode their huge 1-3 finish up front to a fourth overall.
Again the runners funneled across the bridge without major incident, led by Brooke Gordon (TC Roberson).
As they turned right to go into the woods, the girls were in a huge group, with only Gordon having successfully pulled out a bit.
However, by the time they came back around from the first loop. Darby Middlebrook (Watauga) had caught and passed Gordon.
Behind the front two, there was a large gap back to a hotly-contested chase pack,
where Hannah Barbour (Watauga) and newcomer Sonja Payerpaj (Myers Park) were battling with Tristan Van Ord (Chapel Hill).
Broughton's cohesiveness was already apparent at the midpoint of the race, and it was clear that they were in the lead.
Kyndal Boykin led the way for the caps, with Mattie Blue and Kelsey Moore also in the top 10.
Though the race was Broughton's to lose at that point, there were still several large packs of runners with the potential to affect the team scores.
Watauga was the next team after Broughton to get three runners past the halfway mark, followed by a group of Chapel Hill runners.
Despite a strong start, the Myers Park girls had some work to do in the second half of the race.
TC Roberson was rising up through the ranks with a three-girl pack of teammates supporting each other.
Note the first two of the Galyean triplets from Pisgah, who led their team to an unexpectedly strong 10th place finish in the championship race.
Add them to the list of 2A teams that are trying to catch up to Carrboro and North Lincoln; Pisgah might be the third-best team in that class right now.
Middlebrook continued to pull away gradually over the last half of the race, winning solidly and looking strong at 18:25, third-best in course history.
Gordon also finished strong at 18:39, fourth all-time; it's obvious that their battle over the first mile really pushed both girls to better races overall.
Barbour, with her characteristically pained expression, won the fight for third place.
Van Ord and Blue battled all the way to the line to round out the top 5, while Payerpaj was sandwiched by Moore and Boykin.
That gave Broughton three girls in the top 10 overall and all but assured them of the team title.
The Caps cemented their convincing win when their next two runners (one a recovering Megan Sullivan) sprinted to the front of the first large group of runners.
The runners finished hard and fast after that. with Watauga holding onto second place despite being a bit spead out.
For a while it seemed like nobody wanted to be the third team, but eventually Chapel Hill got past TC Roberson, while Myers Park completed the top 5.