Wildcat Cross Country 2011: My Site News: 4A State Meet Preview

Friday, November 4
4A State Meet Preview

 

4A Boys Preview

Teams to Watch

 

There are still three teams that have a legitimate shot to win the team title Saturday, and it may come down to whose 4th and 5th runners have the best day.  Mount Tabor comes in as the #1-ranked team in all classifications according to the database, but they will get a strong challenge from Broughton.  Tabor has the best 3-4-5 in the state (judging by best times), while Broughton is second-best.  The dark horse title contender is Reagan, a team that hasn't raced on a fast course, or even raced all-out in some cases, since the adidas Cross Country Challenge in September.  It will be interesting to see how that strategy plays out, but the Raiders definitely have work to do to get onto the stage; they appear weaker at 4 and 5 than either of the top 2 teams.  Ardrey Kell is another top-5 team with eyes on the top 3, as is a rapidly-improving T.C. Roberson that now has its leader, Cole Rains, back healthy.  This could be a back-and-forth battle between all five teams, and the outcome could be a shock to everyone.  If you want a candidate to make a surprise leap into the top 5, look to the next three teams in the rankings, all of whom have been unable to bring it all together so far this season: Myers Park, South View, or Watauga could catch lightning in a bottle on race day.

 

Boys Virtual Meet

(Based on AVERAGE times from the database, advancing teams only)

 

Boys Virtual Meet

(Based on BEST times from the database, advancing teams only)

 

Individuals to Watch

 

In September, Sam Roberson (Broughton) established himself as the title favorite, but he hasn't seemed to race as well lately; perhaps he has simply trained through his races, and hasn't needed to go faster.  Since Roberson's PR at adidas, Mark Blackmon (West Charlotte) has burst onto the stage, and he is running the best right now of anyone in the field.  Of course, fans of the sport know Blackmon is a veteran of the South Carolina cross country scene, and his experience will give him a good chance to win.  Mason Boyles (Ashley) stayed closest to Blackmon during his big run at Beeson earlier this year, and he also defeated potential top-10 runner Josh Crawford (South View) last weekend.  Craig Engels (Reagan) has won every race he has run this year except one, when he lost to Roberson at WakeMed.  The 1000m champion last winter, Engels has suprisingly good speed and will be a serious threat to take the race if he is close enough to kick for it.  The rest of the top 10 is a tale of those who put up big times earlier this season vs. those who are running their best in the past few weeks.  Bakri Abushouk (Cary), Jeremy Gower (West Johnston), and Peter Vandenberg (Watauga) all had great races last weekend, while Jacob Sears (Panther Creek), Sam Miner (East Chapel HIll), and Madison Souder (Ardrey Kell) all finished a bit lower than expected (though they have great potential as demonstrated by their PR times).  George Oliver has led Mount Tabor all year, and could help their cause both by cracking the top 10 individually and by pulling the tight-knit Tabor pack closer to the front.

 

4A Boys Individual Rankings

(Based on 2011 results from the MileSplit database)

 

4A Girls Preview

Teams to Watch

 

Green Hope entered this season as the prohibitive favorite, and as we approach the end of the NCHSAA season they still occupy that position.  Something tells me the Falcons haven't yet shown their full strength, and with a return trip to Nike Cross Nationals on their goal sheet, why should they?  Expect to see their pack right at the front tomorrow, though.  Ardrey Kell has not disappointed this season, either; in fact, given the loss of a potential top-3 runner for them before the season started, they may have even exceeded expectations.  Good enough to beat Green Hope?  Probably not.  One of the best in state history?  Absolutely.  Behind those two teams, the waters get a bit murkier: will third place go to a solid-across-the-board Broughton team, a Watauga squad that features spectacular number one runner, or a balanced T.C. Roberson with both a frontrunner and the best 5th runner of the three teams?  Myers Park has been improving after a slow start, but they have very good runners and could sneak into the top 5, especially if a higher-rated team doesn't bring their best; West Johnston could be in 4th place after 4 runners, but really needs the race of a lifetime from their 5th.

 

Girls Virtual Meet

(Based on AVERAGE times from the database, advancing teams only)

 

Girls Virtual Meet

(Based on BEST times from the database, advancing teams only)

 

Individuals to Watch

 

Darby Middlebrook (Watauga) has dominated in almost every race she has run this year.  Just as she did en route to an individual title last fall, she will once again try to pull away over the second half of the race.  Sammy George (Millbrook) has had an up-and-down season, as a pig PR at the adidas meet has come in the midst of some frustration over minor injuries.  Her 17:48 on a wet WakeMed last weekend (winning by 25 seconds) could be a warning shot to the rest of the field.  Ardrey Kell teammates Kaitlin Kramer and Sydney Foreman have the potential to be the best 1-2 punch in the state, while Anna McBride (Davie) has to be considered a dark horse contender for the title; she has only lost to Eliza Dekker when racing in good conditions.  Brooke Gordon (T.C. Roberson) has been consistently strong all season, and her aggressive early running could help set the pace for the fastest overall girls' race in state history.  Then we come to the Green Hope girls, who are individuals to consider in their own right.  Erica Amatori has led the way most of the season, but Maura McDonnell has shown signs of evolving into a number one runner this season; Lauren Colberg is always right there with her teammates, and that consistency has been hugely important to her team's success.  A few more runners to look out for, especially since all of them are running very well in recent races: Rebekah Greengrass (Panther Creek) should be the top freshman in the race, and teammate Dana Cox is no slouch, either; Shelby Howell (New Hanover) will be a threat to out-kick anyone if she is close at the end; and South Meck's Madelin Talbert has been improving by leaps and bounds after overcoming some injury issues.

 

4A Girls Individual Rankings