Published: Aug 04, 2012 05:30 PM
Modified: Aug 04, 2012 05:35 PM
Green Hopes cross country program once was known more for having unheard-of depth, with more than 200 runners on its boys and girls teams.
But the Falcons now are starting to get more national recognition for their dominance. The girls have won the last three N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state titles and start the year ranked No. 1 among all N.C. classifications public and private by NCrunners.com. This preseason distinction comes despite losing five of its top eight runners from a year ago.
Green Hope returns defending Tri-Nine Conference champ Maura McDonnell, who finished fourth in the state, as well as Theresa Enright (20th) and three runners Taylor Buscemi, Savannah Lips, Allie Worsdale in the 19-minute range. Shannon Scovel returns as an all-conference member.
Panther Creek, which finished second in the Tri-Nine last year, just ahead of Athens Drive, has McDonnells top individual competition with sophomore Rebekah Greengrass. Greengrass was sixth in the state championship.
Apex, fourth in last years Tri-Nine, could take a step forward this year with four runners Torre Moser, Christina Goudreau, Amber Blanton and Allison Collins all in the 20-minute range or faster. Four other Tri-Nine teams return their top runner from last years conference championships: Athens Drive senior Brianne Boldrin, Holly Springs junior Erin Schneider, Fuquay-Varina junior Sara Baker and Lee County senior Allegra Hogan.
In the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association, Cary Christian will try to make it four 2A championships in a row, and the Lady Knights look like they have the team to do it.
Cary Christian returns three of the 10 returning runners in the 2A class with Caroline Stogner (19:43.13), Elisabeth Heat (20:25.86) and Laurie Van Deventer (20:56.24).
Grace Christians Katrina Pibl, who finished second last year, should contend for the state title.
Cary Academys girls, led by sub-20 runners Spencer Rossa, Hannah Goetz and Demma Astrike-Davis, start the year ranked 19th among all N.C. classifications and tops among NCISAA 3A schools. Rossa (19:13.74) is the second-fastest returner in the classification.Boys teams
Panther Creek snapped a nine-year hold that Green Hope had on the Tri-Nine Conference boys cross country title, but this year it could be another team that steps to the front.
Cary starts the year ranked ninth by NCrunners.com among all N.C. classifications. The Imps return a family of runners in Tri-Nine champ Bakri Abushouk, who was fifth in the state championships, his brother Dean Abushouk and their cousins Abel and Robel Tecle.
Green Hope, which finished third in the Tri-Nine last year, returns Tom Nobles (fifth in Tri-Nine) and Corey Colberg (eighth). Panther Creek returns Josh Vermette (fourth) and Carson Nguyen.
The Falcons are ranked 18th by NCrunners.com among all classifications, while the Catamounts are 24th.
Other Tri-Nine teams returning their top runner from last years conference championships, including: Middle Creek senior Chilton Birdwhistell (sixth), Apex sophomore Jordan Kokoska (10th), Athens Drive senior Paul Tanner (11th), Holly Springs junior Seth Eby (29th) and Lee Countys Dalton Cox (30th).
In the NCISAA, defending champion Grace Christian is ranked tops among 2A teams, while Cary Christian is fifth.
The Eagles will look to Ian Macpherson (17:04.55) and Alex Dolwick (17:45.42) to lead the way for a repeat.
Cary Academy loses all-American Thomas Graham but is ranked third in 3A thanks to Colin Godwin (15:58.30) and three other runners with sub-18 times.