The western Wake N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association schools, all of which start their fall sports regular seasons this Friday, were among the states best in cross country.
Grace Christians boys and Cary Academys girls each captured state titles and are in great positions to do the same this year with the right breaks.
Grace Christians boys return five of its top seven runners, including junior Alex Dolwick (third in 2A state championships), sophomore Aaron Baker (12th), eighth-grader Will Sossoman (16th), junior Ryan Houghee (20th) and senior Harrison Huntley (25th).
Cary Academys girls won a close 3A championship and return three of the Chargers top five runners.
Senior Emma Asrike-Davis (10th), senior Spencer Rossa (11th) and sophomore Ashley Miller (12th) lead the way. Senior Sarah Hamon (38th) will be counted on as well.
The Cary Christian girls were second in the 2A championships last year, finishing behind Asheville Christian. The Knights will return the state runner-up in eighth-grader Marissa Bishop as well as senior Caroline Stogner (15th), junior Elisabeth Heath (24th), freshman Allison Stogner (31st) and junior Lydia Slaughter (47th).
Grace Christian senior Katarina Pibl was third in last years 2A girls state championships.
The Cary Academy boys were third in the 3A championships and bring back four of their six top runners, including junior Josh Mitchell (6th), senior Sam Russell (14th), eighth-grader Coleman Mitchell (20th) and senior Thomas Marshall (44th).
Cary Christians boys, who were fourth in the 2A championships, return all of their top runners in senior Joshua Watson (19th), sophomores Kiefer Pfister (38th) and John Watson (41st), senior Carson Gray (43rd), sophomore Mark Watson (44th) and freshman Nick Heath (51st).
Wake Christian junior Sally Hart was 34th in the 3A girls championships.
Volleyball: Top-notch players lead the way in volleyball as three all-state players return: Cary Academy senior Moriah Smith, Wake Christian junior Hailey Brooke McFadden and Cary Christian junior Adria Johnson.
Smith, an outside hitter, has committed to The Citadel. McFadden (237 kills, 74 aces) has verbally pledged to Wake Forest.
Cary Christian (21-6) was the only team to hand eventual NCISAA 2A champion St. Davids a loss.
Cary Academy (26-7) has been ousted in the 3A playoffs in each of the last three years by Charlotte Latin, which has won the last nine 3A state titles.
Grace Christian (18-9) will have a new coach after the departure of coach/athletics director Rita Stubbs. The Eagles graduated just two players from last years varsity team.
Boys soccer: Cary Christian (12-5-3) senior Jeremy Twidt is back after being selected to the NCISAA all-state team last year. The Knights were one of the last eight teams left in the 2A playoffs.
Junior 3A all-state selection Cohen Dworsky returns for Cary Academy (9-9-3), which was an 11th seed in the 3A playoffs last year.
Girls tennis: Cary Academy (11-9) is the only area NCISAA with a girls tennis team. Senior Anastasia Morgus is ranked the No. 12 senior in the state by tennisrecruiting.net.
Field hockey: Cary Academy (9-11) was one of the last eight teams remaining in the NCISAA playoffs and returns all-state pick Rebecca Kenney, a junior.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps.