Providence Day is looking to double up at the NCISAA boys and girls cross country championships, which will be decided Oct. 26, but a number of runners are looking for good performances at the season’s final races.
The Charger boys are the big favorites to repeat as state champs after winning their 19th consecutive CISAA championship last week. The Providence Day girls are looking to make it a clean sweep, but must go through last year’s state champion Covenant Day to make that dream a reality.
Below is a look at some of our hopefuls at this week’s NCISAA championship.
Note: For the first time this season, the NCISAA is going to a four-classification playoff format. Last year, the Providence Day boys and Covenant Day girls won the 3A title, but this year both schools are competing in 4A.
The Charger boys are loaded. They flexed their muscles at the CISAA meet on Oct. 16 at McAlpine Park, where their 21 team points were 36 better than runner-up Charlotte Latin.
Super sophomore Christian Landis is the headliner for the Chargers and the overwhelming favorite to win the individual title.
At the conference championship, Landis won by over 28 seconds with a 16:08, but that is a far cry from when he gets pushed with faster runners as evidenced by his 15:25 earlier this season.
Christ School junior Andrew Hammel beat Landis by about 10 seconds at last year’s state meet and is the only other NCISAA boy to run under 16 minutes this season. Those two should be up front all race.
The Chargers also boast four other runners who are within the top 17 private-school boys in the state: Adam Habas (season-best 16:16, seventh-fastest in NCISAA), Colter Nichols (16:27, 12th), Jason Krell (16:30, 15th) and Andrew Riolo (16:45, 17th). John Smith, Robert Veres and Luke Manna have all run under 17:22.
Charlotte Latin’s Rob Schleusner (16:48), Country Day’s William Harris (16:58), Metrolina Christian’s Tate Johnson (17:08), Covenant Day’s Bryson Mace (17:15), Country Day’s Daniel Tierney (17:19), Metrolina Christian’s Camden Johnson (17:21), Charlotte Latin’s Charles Harris (17:26) and Country Day’s Charlie Veronee (17:43) have all run times within the top 50 recorded in the NCISAA this season.
Other contenders include Durham Academy (four runners in the top 22 NCISAA times this season) and Cary Academy (three runners in the top 19).
The Charger and Lion girls teams appear very similar up top, but Providence Day has more depth in its 3-5 runners.
The Chargers are led by Justine Cronk (19:31, sixth-fastest NCISAA 4A time), but freshman Ashley Horwitz (20:04, eighth), Ananyaa Bharadwaj (20:35, 18th), Caroline Sicard (20:50, 27th) and Annabel Henegar (20:51, 28th) have all broken 21 minutes.
Kelsey Troutman (20:06, ninth) is Covenant Day’s top runner, but the Lions also have Sedona Dancu (20:10, 10th) and Eva Linder (20:59, 29th) under 21 minutes. Sophomore Olivia Meuth (21:18) is the Lions current No. 4.
Charlotte Latin doesn’t have the speedsters up top, but boast six who have run the 21st- through 27th-fastest speeds among NCISAA’s 4A times.
If a few runners in the Ellie Beuley (20:38), Marion Donald (20:38), Mary Schleusner (20:40), Madison Sellers (20:41), Madeline Pease (20:45) and Maria Llerenas Soto (20:49) pack could shave a few seconds off, they could be in play for a repeat title.
Country Day’s Sophie Spada (19:14) and Clarkson Graham (21:00) are other runners to keep an eye on.
Durham Academy (three times within the NCISAA 4A’s top five recorded times) and Cary Academy (four runners within the top 17) are among the candidates to challenge for the girls title.
3A boys and girls
Carmel Christian’s Aiden Ezell (18:47) and Caroline Bowman (21:24) lead the Cougars, who will not contend for a team title.
1A boys and girls
United Faith will be in the mix of the top three or four 1A girls teams.
Freshman Keegan Lisiecki set a personal best of 21:12 earlier this month, and that is the fastest 1A time recorded this season.
She is joined up top by freshman Bethany Nelson (23:50, seventh) and seventh-grader Madelyn Bronson (23:59, eighth).
The Falcons will need one of their two remaining runners to get to the 25-minute mark to have a shot at a team title with Grace Christian (four runners within the top 15 1A runners) and The Burlington School (three in the top 20) among the elite girls teams.
The Falcon boys are in good shape and are led by Blake Grindle (19:50, fifth-fastest 1A time this season).
Simon Wu (20:43, 13th) and Jayden Chang (21:28, 23rd) have both been under 21:30, but like the girls another runner would have to make a huge leap if the Falcons are going to challenge heavyweights Woodlawn (four runners in the top 14), Lee Christian (three runners within top 12 1A times) or Christ Covenant (three runners in the top 15).