Kiley Aymor takes on runners from NC, SC, GA, and AK (that's Alaska, not Ardrey Kell), including state champ Jenna Gearing.
At this weekend's edition of the Hare & Hounds Invitational, teams from four states will participate - and the fourth state is more than a little bit unexpected! Runners from South Carolina and Georgia routinely come to North Carolina to compete, but it's not often that we get a school from Alaska on Tar Heel turf. Anchorage Christian makes the trek across the country, trading a forecasted high of 58 for the upper-70's glory that we here in North Carolina associate with the beginning of fall (and Alaskans call a heat wave). The Hare & Hounds Invitational arose as a response to the restrictions on entries at the Wendy's Invitational, and the response has been so strong that it has become a major event in and of itself. The name of the meet derives from a historical term from the origins of cross country, in times when courses were not clearly defined and one runner (the Hare) would lead the rest (the Hounds) through the woods. Take a look below to see the candidates for the Hare and the Hounds in this year's meet!
Girls Championship Race- The Hares
Sub 18:00 looks to be a possibility as Jenna Gearing of White County (GA), Ardrey Kell’s Kiley Aymor, and Malia Ellington of Community School of Davidson are set to compete this weekend. Gearing is the returning Georgia AAA State Champion and seems to be eyeing a Footlocker Nationals spot as she was 28th at Foot Locker South last year as a sophomore. Kiley Aymor has had a fantastic start to her 10th-grade year; she was narrowly outkicked and denied the win last week at Weddington and will be looking to improve on her already impressive marks from this season. Ellington has been at the front of races so far this season, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from her this weekend.
Girls Championship Race- The Hounds
Ardrey Kell's girls have had a great season thus far, getting second place at Weddington last week and look to be the favorite at this meet. They should have a very close battle with Providence Day who haven’t run any extremely fast courses, and haven’t had Emma Brown at anywhere close to full speed - as she recovers from injury and moves up in the Chargers' front 7, they get much better.. Ardrey Kell last week showed a great amount of depth and has many girls competing for a top 7 spot every week. Other schools looking to compete for a podium finish will be White County HS of Georgia, Butler, and Community School of Davidson.
Boys Championship Race- The Hares
The Providence Day duo of Nick Linder and Jack Paddison highlight the field and will look to break 16:00 on the legendary launching pad known as the McAlpine course. Closely behind them will be lots of runners who are looking to bust out a fast time. Page stars Nolan Cook and Drew Lake haven’t seen any fast courses yet this season, and will definitely be at the front end of this field. Loads of talent out of Georgia is coming to Charlotte to run this Saturday, like Stephen Martinez and Nik Calia of St. Pius X and Austin Thompson of White County HS. Martinez was just above the 16:00 mark and finished fifth at this meet last season while teammate Calia was just behind finishing in 8th. I wouldn’t be surprised to see many guys finish below the 16:00 mark in this race even though only Linder amongst this field has done so this season. Micah Williams of Greer Middle College Charter is currently listed to be in the Invitational Race, but word is that he has switched to the Championship race. Williams currently holds a seasons best of 15:22 and would have a great battle with Lindler definitely resulting in some fast times.
Boys Championship Race- The Hounds
St. Pius X of Atlanta, Georgia highlight the Virtual Meet winning 55-86 over Providence Day School with current season bests. But don’t be surprised when the Chargers look to take the win on their local course. With Lindler and Paddison holding it down at the front, and a slew of hardworking athletes looking to run some fast times, the Chargers are very capable of pulling off a win over the favorites. Page will be looking to show that they can be a top team at the 4A State Championships this year, and current times don’t reflect the talent that is on their squad. Ardrey Kell is also capable of a top three spot at this meet, as they look to improve on last week’s 4th place finish at Weddington.