Providence’s Pace Clark, Independence’s Nicholas O’Brien-Pifer, Myers Park’s Gant Renner and Queen’s Grant’s Lucas Brown will join Myers Park’s Cora Cooke as names to watch with the NCHSAA 4A cross country regional championships hit on Oct. 27 at McAlpine Park.
Below is a rundown of each division, and some of the big names to watch.
Renner is probably the favorite for the Mecklenburg County runners heading into this weekend’s race.
The Mustang senior has run the sixth-fastest time (15:42) out of all 4A runners this season and could sneak into the top two in the state behind Millbrook’s Nick Scudder, who has a 4A-best 15:20 this season.
O’Brien-Pifer has burst onto the scene as a sophomore, running the 17th-fastest 4A time (16:01), and should finish near the top 20 or so.
Clark set a personal-best just over 16 minutes (16:04), and the So. Meck 7 champ has run the 19th-fastest 4A time.
Ardrey Kell’s Murphy Smith is another sophomore phenom, who has posted the 20th-best 4A time this season (16:11).
Porter Ridge’s Michael Beckerman (16:17, 23rd-fastest) and Indepdendence’s Carter Schenck (16:44, 46th) have also recorded top 50 runs in the classification.
Cary has four runners within the top 14 4A runners in the state, and are the favorites.
Cooke leads seven Mustangs who have run times within the top 45 recorded in the state this season and are the clear county favorite, although with four runners in the top 14, Charles E. Jordan is the frontrunner to win the team title.
Cooke will be a factor in the individual race, though.
She’s run the fourth-fastest time among 4A runners (18:11) and is just one of five girls under 18:20.
Megan Merritt (19:15) and Sarah Holshouser (19:15) have tied for the 21st-fastest times among 4A runners and are part of the Mustang pack that also includes Taylor Brading (19:34, 38th) and Joelle Ryan and Gracie Landrum, who are tied with the classification’s 45th best time (19:42).
Porter Ridge’s Caroline Fagan (19:15, tied for 21st) is the only other area runner within the top 50 4A runs.
1A boys and girls
Lucas Brown has had a stellar senior season for the Stallions and is one of the favorites in the 1A race.
Brown, who ran 16:02 earlier this month, is the second-fastest 1A runner, trailing only Franklin’s Aaran Rovak (15:57).
Queen’s Grant’s Joshua Divers (17:37, 25th-fastest 1A time) is also a name to know.
Franklin Academy is the heavy favorite to win the boys and are neck and neck with Voyager Academy in the girls race.
Note: Charlotte Catholic doesn’t have a boy or girl within the top 50 3A runners, but for more coverage on that race, read this week’s Union County Weekly.