CHARLOTTE – Country Day’s Sophie Spada said she always envisioned herself standing on the winner’s podium of the state championship and thought her path to the top was going to be relatively easy.
Spada placed fifth as a freshman and said she remembers getting interviewed for her accomplishment.
Spada figured she would gradually improve each year, but knee surgery took her out of her sophomore season.
Last year, Spada came back and ran well, but she had “a bad race” in her comeback effort as a junior, running 21:20 and placing seventh at the state meet.
“That kind of ruined my season,” she said. “This whole last year I’ve been thinking about how I can get better and mimic this last race during the year. I’ve really pushed when it matters in practice and I really pushed myself for this meet all year.”
That practice paid off as Spada crossed the finish line in 18:37, which was 11 seconds clear of the field and a huge accomplishment for the senior who led wire-to-wire after a 5:40 first mile.
“I decided I was going to take it out and do what I’ve done all year and run my own race,” she said. “I wasn’t afraid to separate myself. (Durham Academy’s Allison Hall, who won the individual title last season as a seventh-grader) battled going up the hill and we were together the rest of the way until the lake. That’s when I kind of made my move.
“It’s special. I’ve known my journey since freshman year when I was getting interviewed for finishing fifth. I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be easy and I’m going to win it.’ It wasn’t, but this is really special.”
Other runners who finished in the top 20 included Mary Schleusner, Charlotte Latin (sixth); Olivia Jones, Charlotte Christian (seventh); Harper Shaw, Country Day (eighth); Annie Miller, Metrolina Christian (10th); Ashley Horwitz, Providence Day (11th); Eva Linder, Covenant Day (16th); Lindsay Smith, Providence Day (17th); and Marion Donald, Charlotte Latin, (18th).
Overall, Charlotte Latin placed third and was followed by Country Day (fourth), Providence Day (fifth), Metrolina Christian (sixth), Covenant Day (seventh) and Charlotte Christian (eighth).
Lisiecki dominates 1A race for UF
United Faith sophomore Keegan Lisiecki won the NCISAA 1A title with a time of 20:45, which won the race by more than 45 seconds.
Eighth-grader Madison Bronson placed seventh for the Falcons, who finished third overall.