The Providence Day boys cross country team hadn’t won an NCISAA championship since 2014 when the Chargers were dominating the private-school running world and winners of five straight titles from 2010-14.
Consider them back.
Led by senior standout Noah Dolhare and a group of supremely talented freshmen and sophomores, the Chargers overtook the field at the NCISAA 3A championship, which concluded Oct. 27 at the WakeMed Soccer Complex in Cary.
Dolhare led the way with a third-place run of 15 minutes, 40 seconds, and he holds the 11th fastest time of any runner in the state regardless of classification.
But coach Ben Hovis, who has led the Chargers to 12 state titles since 2005, said Dolhare was aided by the youth influx that made this season so memorable.
“I’ve told people over the last year that the youth has really helped Noah and that Noah has also helped the youth,” Hovis said. “The young guys gave him a sense of energy that I think he’d lost over time. As an athlete you sometimes just get in a rut, and I think he needed that excitement that they had. But of course this is a feeder, so Noah showed them how to do the little things, the day-to-day stuff and that the big picture is important.”
Providence Day turned in the top six times of area teams, and all six runners – five of whom are freshmen or sophomores – placed within the top 21.
Freshman Christian Landis finished sixth overall with a run of 16:07 and he was followed by sophomores Jason Krell (16:13, eighth), Adam Habas (16:19, ninth), Andrew Riolo (16:34, 14th) and Robert Veras (16:52, 21st).
Although the times were all under 17 minutes, there is more to the story.
Landis ran the fastest freshman time in the state regardless of classification and was the 31st fastest freshman in the nation this year.
Not to be outdone, Krell has the seventh-fastest sophomore time in the state, while Habas is eighth, Riolo is 22nd and ranks Veres 37th.
“We had two freshmen (Colter Nichols finished 26th with a time of 17:03) who stepped up and made that freshman and sophomore group really impressive,” said Hovis, who added they are fifth in the nation as a group. “These kids didn’t have many bad races during the season. It gave us a really good feeling going into the state meet.
“With a couple of the sophomores who had run really well during the track season, the goal was certainly became to win it, but we knew that even though these kids had a lot of talent, a number of them hadn’t run cross country and transitioning from track to cross country isn’t always a guarantee.”
But the young Chargers and their senior leader handled the situation perfectly and are now very much set up for the future as they look to add to their 18 consecutive CISAA conference titles and to their 14 state titles.
“We talked about getting this done for Noah and having these young guys kind of start their own streak,” Hovis said. “The freshmen and sophomores rank fifth in the country as a group, so they have really high goals for themselves going forward. I think that’s cool about the group because they’re never satisfied and want to keep getting better and better.”