SWAC cross country season previews

A look at this season’s local cross country teams

mblake@newsobserver.comAugust 9, 2013 

  • Girls’ conference champs

    2008-2012: Green Hope

    SWAC girls’ state titles

    Cary (1997), Fuquay-Varina (1996), Green Hope (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)

    Boys’ conference champs

    2012: Cary

    2011: Panther Creek

    2008-10: Green Hope

    SWAC boys’ state titles

    Green Hope (2010)

  • Fall sports preview schedule

    Aug. 14: Boys’ soccer, volleyball, NCISAA fall sports

    Aug. 18: Football: Apex, Athens Drive, Fuquay-Varina, Green Hope, Panther Creek, Wake Christian

    Aug. 21: Football: Cardinal Gibbons, Cary, Holly Springs, Middle Creek

In the last decade, not a year has gone by when a team or individual from this year’s Southwest Wake Athletic Conference didn’t make a run at a state cross country title.

Why should this year be any different?

Green Hope’s girls will be challenged for their fifth straight 4A title, although Panther Creek junior Rebekah Greengrass will battle for the individual crown.

On the boys’ side, there’s a wide-open race for the SWAC title.

Falcons want fifth straight state title

The senior class that started the Falcon girls’ title streak as freshmen has now graduated, but enough talent remains to earn the NCrunners.com’s No. 1 ranking among all classifications entering the year.

Kristen Lospinoso, Kayla Hall, Theresa Enright, Katie Tomasi, Savannah Lips, Julia Zwierzynski, Julia England and Hannah Groover all return. NCrunners.com has reported that Elly Henes from Athens Drive has transferred in.

Henes was fourth in the conference last year, behind Lospinoso, Greengrass and the now-graduated Maura McDonnell.

The Falcons’ top 4A competition looks like it will be Charlotte Providence.

The Apex girls, which were conference runners-up last year, are ranked 24th in the state among all classifications and 14th among 4A teams. They will likely have to edge out Leesville Road, Broughton or Millbrook to make the state meet.

With only two seniors among the group of Cara Gaudioso, Amber Blanton, Elie Rivera, Elora Galluzzo, Samantha Malone, Natalia Ghan and Hannah Ferguson, NCrunners writes that this group “might not peak until 2014.”

Cary, which was third in the conference last year, returns all-conference runners Sarah Hoffert and Cayla Rodney, both juniors.

Greengrass was fifth at the state championships as a sophomore for the Catamounts, who were fourth in the conference last season.

Athens Drive, fifth in the conference last year, returns seniors Hannah Wasserman and Tristan Thomas, junior Elina Spradlin and sophomore Sophie Miller.

Middle Creek (sixth in the conference), Holly Springs (seventh) and Fuquay-Varina (eighth) each return their top runners in Middle Creek senior Rachel Smith, Holly Springs senior Erin Schneider and Fuquay-Varina junior Lauren DeBoskey.

Apex holds edge in SWAC boys’ race

After a nine-year run in the conference by Green Hope, the last two seasons have seen two different schools win the league – Panther Creek in 2011 and Cary in 2010 – though the Falcons didn’t finished lower than third either season.

Cary dominated last year’s conference, but three-time conference champ and last year’s 4A state champ Bakri Abushouk graduated.

That could open the door for last year’s conference runner-up, Apex.

The Cougars are ranked seventh in the state among all classifications by NCrunners.com and has a strong top three in Mihret Coulter (runner-up in the conference), Jordan Kokoska and Carl Geiger. Wyat Miller, Matt Sholtis, Spencer Colwell and Jonathan Seith give the Cougars depth.

Green Hope was a distant third in last year’s conference championships but returns all-conference runner Tom Nobles. The next six returning Green Hope runners – Brad Pehr, Jonathan Bakley, Henry Pehr, Williams Jordan, Corey Colberg and Michael Kolor – don’t have much separating them from each other.

Cary retains three of its top five: Abel Tecle, who was third in the conference a year ago, Dean Abushouk and Josh Barrett.

Fuquay-Varina (eighth in the conference) brings back all-conference runner Parker Lee. The top returning runners for the other four teams are as follows: Athens Drive (fourth), senior Eli Harrell; Panther Creek (fifth), junior John Foulkes; Middle Creek (sixth), sophomore Jack Cawley; Holly Springs (seventh) senior Ryan Willadsen.

Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps

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