Once upon a time, a group of running enthusiasts and coaches coalesced into the Chapel Hill / Carrboro Pacers Youth Running Club. Its not sure exactly when this occurred; carbon dating and etchings on stone tablets put it at the late 1970s. So when a current Pacer coach boasts in superlatives like best ever, its saying something.
Still, according to Pacers head coach Meredith Bolon, this fall was, by many standards, the young runners best season on record.
This was our greatest participation and result in USA Track and Field cross-country ever, she said.
Given the Pacers emphasis on involvement and personal achievement over medals and trophies, Bolon might have been speaking merely of dozens of youngsters participation in state championship competition this season. But each and every one of these athletes just happened to earn a place on the medal stand, as well.
We had 55 Pacers running and we even had a few (Fleet Feet Carrboro) Mini-Milers joining us at the USATF State Championships on November 4 in Greensboro, Bolon said, and we had all eight teams that we entered finish either first or second in the state as teams. All of our runners qualified for Regional Championship competition at Fayetteville, Georgia, just south of Atlanta.
Over 100 boys and girls joined the Pacers ( www.ccpacers.org) this autumn, seeking to run for a competitive edge, for exercise, or just for fun. Runners were grouped according to age and/or ability, with shorter runs tailored for beginners and more rigorous trail runs for seasoned veterans, all with a goal of instilling a love of running as a lifetime sport.
While many young runners chose to compete in local races or USATF events, many simply enjoy the menu of activities offered through training sessions.
Four different pace groups enjoyed scavenger hunts and theme runs around Halloween, Bolon offered. We also had a time trial during an early-season practice that gave runners the opportunity to get a time that would be a benchmark to beat at a later practice..
One of the highlights each autumn is the Pumpkin Run Time Trial Run and Ice Social, Bolon said, which gives runners a time to beat at the actual 2.4-mile (4K) Pumpkin Trail Run later in the season, which saw 50 Pacers lacing up their running shoes. This years time trial drew around 70 Pacers and Mini-Milers.
The relationship between Pacers and Mini-Milers yielded an opportunity to add to local numbers at the N.C. Championships, as well.
The USATF State Cross-Country Championship at Hagan Stone Park near Greensboro pitted runners according to six separate age categories: Sub-bantam (8-and-under), Bantam (9-10), Midget (11-12), Youth (13-14), Intermediate (15-16), and Young (17-18).
Fifteen local runners finished among the top 10 places in their races: Emma Iacono, Nora Daley, Ella Pedersen, Elise Playe, Margaret Nelson, Madi Marvin, Morgan Ribisl, Maddie Fowler, Clare McNamara, Thomas Bastiaans, John Emmons, Luc Farer, Alex Emmons, Nicholas Teta, and Klaas Van Kempen.
From the state meet, 28 runners went on to the Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 19 in Fayetteville, Ga. That meet included teams from Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia. The top three teams and top 25 finishers qualified for nationals, and 15 Pacers made it.
Six runners made the trip to the National USATF Cross-Country Championships held Dec. 8 in Albuquerque, N.M.: Thomas Bastiaans, Anne Bastiaans, Lilly Crook, Nicholas Teta, Sierra Teta, and Klaas Van Kempen.
Bolon credited a host of committed coaches with much of the programs ongoing success.
We had around 20 coaches, she said, including both parents and Pacers alumni whove come back to help coach, UNC students, and high school and middle school junior coaches.
Pacer alumni Jonathan Drake and Susan Pedersen
coordinated the training of Pacers and Pacer alumni from the middle school seasons ended through the USATF series, Bolon said. They were awesome.
Leading pace groups this fall were Joan Nesbit Mabe (coaching the Big Dog group), and Harold Hill, Karen Hede and Adrienne Jimenez (coaching the Hybrids). Rob Crook coached the Middle Dog runners. Perri and Carter Kersh, Samantha Smith and Caleb Roenigk coached the younger runners: the Little Dogs.
Bolon had especially high praise for younger coaches who made time to pitch in and help.
Samantha Smith (a UNC graduate student) and Emily Braaton from the UNC Club Cross-Country team both helped, she said. Chapel Hill High senior Caleb Roenigk has been a junior coach for years and he was a loyal volunteer.
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Top Finishers in State Meet
4k Run CC Youth Girls (2nd) # Maddie Fowler*+, Clare McNamara*, Eliza Irwin, Isabel Drake, Sierra Teta
4k Run CC Youth Boys (2nd) Tucker Owens, Will Owen, Evan Owre, Kevin Gilland, Calvin Bolon
3k Run CC Midget Girls (2nd) Madi Marvin*+, Morgan Ribisl*, Madigan Clossick, Grace Morris, Claire Pedersen, Laura Meshnick, Lilly Crook, Scout Hayashi, Bridget Palmer, Grace Dodge, Katie Siegling, Anne Bastiaans, Roxane Bolon, Lizzie Mabe, Phereby Kersh
3k Run CC Midget Girls # Madi Marvin*+, Morgan Ribisl*, Laura Meshnick, Lilly Crook, Katie Siegling, Anne Bastiaans
3k Run CC Midget Boys (2nd) Nicholas Teta*+, Klaas Van Kempen *+, Owen Rogers, Kyle Dekaney, Sergio Jimenez, Sam Sewall
3k Run CC Bantam Girls (1st) Ella Pedersen*+, Elise Playe*, Margaret Nelson*+, Frances Norton, Shelby Freeman
3k Run CC Bantam Boys (1st) John Emmons*, Ethan Mathis, Lucas Daley, Jules Van Kempen, Todd Roessler, Keegan Clossick
2k Meter Run CC Sub-Bantam Girls (1st) Emma Iacono*, Nora Daley *, Morgan Palmer, Claire Ribisl, Kate Cruickshank
2k Meter Run CC Sub-Bantam Boys (1st) Thomas Bastiaans*+, Alex Emmons*, Luc Farer*+, Evan Milledge, Ryker Allen, Kelly Ribisl, Will Covington, Leo Bergman
* Top 10 individual N.C. finish
+ Top 20 individual regional finish/national qualifier
# national meet qualifier