CHARLOTTE – The Providence Day boys cross country team came into their Oct. 24 state championship meet as the heavy favorites and they knew it.
It was the same last year as well, but a puddle-soaked, slippery and miserable course at Jackson Park in Hendersonville in last season’s state meet was the ultimate X-factor.
Last year, the Chargers extended their state title streak to two, but it was a harrowing one-point win over Durham Academy.
If the Chargers came into this race wanting to make a statement, the point was taken: The Chargers are most definitely the king of the land after their 41-point win this season.
“It means a lot to get the state title and especially to get three in a row,” said senior Jason Krell, who placed fifth overall in a stacked field. “We’ve been working really hard all season and pushing each other in practice and workouts. We knew if we stuck together we could do big things. We ran for each other and pushed ourselves.”
Six Chargers finished in the top 11 in the state, which may be unprecedented achievement. Steady junior Christian Landis led the way, as usual, finishing second in the state with a run of 15:52. From there, the difference in times was negligible.
Landis, who was out for part of this year battling an injury, said this was special to him in many ways.
“It’s sort of bittersweet,” he said. “I think I raced well, but being out the first part of the season wasn’t easy. There was a mental battle this year that wasn’t there in years past. I think about these three guys. I see them every day, and it’s not nearly going to be the same without them.”
Adam Habas (16:09, fourth) and Krell (16:10, fifth) are two of the three seniors among the top six runners, but Colter Nichols (16:19, seventh), John Alfred Smith (16:38, 10th) and senior Andrew Riolo (16:50, 11th) were the top six even though Riolo’s time would only be necessary in a tiebreaker. Freshman Landon Roemer, in his first state meet experience, ran 18:08 and finished 33rd for good measure, marking the future of a program that will already come back four deep in their quest to win a fourth consecutive title next season.
“This means a lot to us,” Riolo said. “We have had a lot of great people in our program like Nick Linder, Ben Huffman and Noah Dolhare and just too many other people to name. It means a lot for us to carry on that legacy for our program. It’s another title added to the cabinet for our program and it’s special.”
Covenant Day’s Bryson Mace placed ninth, and Country Day had three runners in the top 20 including William Harris (15th), Connor Kleiderer (18th) and AJ Chardiet (19th).
Providence Day finished first overall with Country Day (fifth), Charlotte Latin (sixth), Covenant Day (seventh), Metrolina Christian (eighth) and Charlotte Christian (10th) following.