CARY — With the 1A, 2A and 4A classifications all running the Mideast cross country regional at WakeMed Park in Cary, there were six races in less than three hours Saturday. A majority of the teams competing in each classification were Triangle teams, so it was only right that the day be dominated by local runners.
Broughton’s boys and Green Hope’s girls won 4A regional titles; Carrboro’s girls and N.C. Science & Math boys won 2A; and Franklin Academy girls and Research Triangle boys claimed titles in 1A.
The Triangle accounted for all six individual champions: Broughton’s Will Roberson (15:23, 4A boys); Broughton’s Megan Sullivan (18:12, 4A girls); Carrboro’s Maysa Araba (18:20, 2A girls); NCSSM’s Nick Walker (16:21, 2A boys); Raleigh Charter’s Chris O’Brien (15:59, 1A boys); and Franklin Academy’s Hannah Zenker (19:45, 1A girls).
In each regional, top-four teams and top-five individuals who were not on those teams qualified for Saturday’s NCHSAA state championships at Beeson Park in Kernersville.
4A Mideast: Roberson made quite the triumphal return from injury.
“I had a strain in my hip and IT band. It wasn’t a terrible injury, but I took some time,” Roberson said. “I was just trying to run in the 15:30s and win it.”
Broughton’s boys – the defending state champs – scored 24 points, easily besting other state qualifying teams: Apex (92), Green Hope (97) and Millbrook (134).
Meanwhile, Sullivan – the defending 4A champ – staved off some of the best competition she had seen all year. To her, running with the temperature in the 30s was also the best weather she had seen.
“I didn’t sweat. My legs were kind of numb, so I wasn’t feeling any pain,” Sullivan said.
However, it was four-time reigning state champ Green Hope (36) who took the title ahead of Broughton (62), Millbrook (104) and Leesville Road (123).
Qualifying individually on the girls’ side was Panther Creek’s Rebekah Greengrass and Bridgette Sullivan; Enloe’s Cierra Della-Rova; West Johnston’s Becca Meshaw; and Sanderson’s Olivia Bane.
On the boys’ side, Cary’s Dean Abushouk and Josh Barrett; Fuquay-Varina’s Parker Lee; West Johnston’s Kyle Christ; and Heritage’s Grant Rogers all qualified.
2A Mideast: N.C. Science & Math boys and the four-time defending state champion Carrboro girls did as expected.
Araba’s fellow Jaguar Helen Morken crossed the finish line 18 seconds before the third-place runner.
“We just tried to pick it up after the two-mile and create some distance,” Araba, a junior, said.
Carrboro’s top five all finished in the top 10: Amanda Hickey earned fifth place, Natalie Richardson was in sixth and Amelia Covington in ninth.
Walker, a Durham native, was 10 seconds ahead of teammate Josh Rees-Jones.
Carrboro’s Tomiwa Olufolabi (16:355) finished third and teammate James Jushchuk (16:45) was sixth, as the Jaguar boys took second place in the team standings.
All 14 of Carrboro’s entrants finished in the top 20 of their respective events — Araba, Morken, Hickey, Richardson, Covington, Claire Scanga and Kara Stonecypher for the girls; Olufolabi, Jushchuk, Khalid Williams, Enrique Guerra, Avery Marsh, Sam Hedges and Nathan Andres for the boys.
“We were relaxed in the first mile, and I started picking it up at the the top of the hill, and once we got to the first of the rolling hills I started picking up the pace and got a good gap,” Walker said.
NCSSM, Carrboro and Durham School of the Arts will send both boys and girls teams to state, as will the Spivey’s Corner Midway boys and Clinton girls.
4A Midwest: Durham Jordan was third and East Chapel Hill was fourth in the boys’ race held at Beeson Park, site of the state championship meets on Saturday.
Ryan Brady (15:30) led East’s effort with his second-place finish. Teammates Ethan Ready and Connor McDonald finished 23rd and 24th respectively.
Clare McNamara (19:06) was a top-10 finisher for the East females, coming in ninth. Lilly Price took 17th place.
3A Mideast: At Hagan Stone Park just south of Greensboro, Cardinal Gibbons’ girls – led by winner Mary Grace Doggett (18:02) – and boys swept team titles with Cedar Ridge — led by Jared Buddington’s runnerup finish (15:58) in second. Chapel Hill took second among the girls’ teams and third place among the boys. Northwood was fourth in girls.
Chapel Hill had two males finish in the top 10: Colin Vilen (16:05) in third and Peter Williams (16:23) in ninth. Drew Roeber took 12th place, while Jeffrey Williams and Jonathan Timothy finished 15th and 16th respectively.
Noah Hanley (16:22) and Patrick Fallon (16:23) took 7th and 8th for Cedar Ridge.
For the CHHS girls, Marija Crook placed among the nation’s elites with a time of 19:29 for eighth place. Anna Passannante (19:45) was in ninth, while Regan Roeber, Julia Perkins and Elise Matera finished less than 10 seconds apart as they came in 14-15-16.
1A Mideast: Research Triangle Charter doesn’t have a conference affiliation yet – the Raptors will join the North Central Athletic Conference next year – but it will have a regional title.
Research Triangle had 34 points to top Durham Voyager Academy (48), Raleigh Charter (82) and Franklin Academy (95).
Raleigh Charter’s O’Brien was well ahead of the pack, but knows that will change when he eyes a 1A title next week.
“My first mile was probably my fastest,” O’Brien said.
Franklin Academy’s Zenker, last year’s 1A runner-up, led the Patriots (41) over Raleigh Charter (73), Pittsboro Woods Charer (117) and Whitevile (126).
She was 58 seconds in front of second.
“It’s hard holding your pace at the end, but running with a watch really helps,” Zenker said.
Staff Writers W.E. Warnock and D. Clay Best contributed to this story.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps