Covenant Day won its first cross country state championship in a closely contested NCISAA final Oct. 27 at the WakeMed Soccer Complex in Cary.
The Lions needed every effort from their top seven runners as they tied Cary Academy with 58 points, but won the tiebreaker which is based on the top sixth runner among the teams.
All five of the Lion point scorers finished within the top 20 and all are underclassmen.
“One thing that was really awesome about our win was that nobody really expected it,” said Lions coach Farrell O’Quinn. “We did. We knew we could do it, but we didn’t have any pressure. I feel like the girls really radiated to being a team and not doing it for individual needs and doing things for the team and caring about each other. That was a big difference for us this year.”
Freshman Sedona Dancu placed fourth with a time of 19 minutes, 11 seconds, which not only set a new personal best, but is also the 11th-fastest freshman time in the state this season regardless of classification.
Sophomore Eva Linder was on Dancu’s heels the whole race and wound up fifth with a time of 19:16.
The Lions also got scoring runs from junior Kelsey Troutman (20:16, 14th), freshman Olivia Muerth (20:23, 16th) and junior Sadie Evans (20:27, 19th). Muerth took 40 seconds off her previous personal best this season and Evans shaved 57 seconds off her previous season-best time.
Covenant Day senior Anna Hayes did not place for the Lions, but came in with a time of 20:43 to place 27th in the state and undo the tiebreaker.
Two other south Charlotte area athletes turned in top 10 performances as well. Providence Day sisters Justine Cronk (19:20, sixth) and Regan Cronk (19:47, ninth) ran exceptionally well for the Chargers, who finished third.
The Lions won their first CISAA conference title the week before and claimed just their second 3A team championship in school history after the boys swim team won it in Covenant Day’s first season as a 3A school during the 2008-09 season.
Now, with the boys or girls cross country program’s first state title under their belts and all of their top five runners coming back, the Lions think this is just the start of a special run.
“The future is bright for Covenant Day,” O’Quinn said. “I think it will be fun to kind of build off what we already have. Given that we’ve had success now, the girls will be even more ready and they realize if they put the work in we know we can get some results.”