Cardinal Gibbons girls win their fourth straight 3A cross country title

cbest@newsobserver.comNovember 4, 2013 

Cardinal Gibbons' Mary Grace Doggett (24) and Sophie Ebihara (25) lead the race through a turn during the NCHSAA 3A Cross Country Championships on Saturday, November 2, 2013. For the second straight year, Doggett finished first and Ebihara finished second, helping lead Cardinal Gibbons to a state championship in team scores.

RAY BLACK III

— A few relatively minor ailments were not a concern for the Cardinal Gibbons girls cross country team Saturday as the Crusaders pursued a fourth straight title in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A championships.

That’s why Megan Vaughn didn’t tell her coach about the knee that had been bothering her for a week and a half and it’s also why Amanda Wiggenhorn didn’t think much of her ailing foot.

And it’s how Gibbons simply went out and won in dominating fashion again, totaling 37 team points and placing four runners in the top eight, led by repeat 1-2 finishers senior Mary Grace Doggett and sophomore Sophie Ebihara.

Marvin Ridge was a distant second with 73 points.

“The way you judge character is how good you are on the bad days, the days where things aren’t going perfectly,” said Cardinal Gibbons coach Nick Mangum.

Doggett, who helped the Crusaders to four straight state titles, rolled to her second straight state title in 17:57.07. She was 15 seconds ahead of Ebihara.

“I’m really proud of my team and how well we ran together,” Doggett said. “I think we knew we had the potential (to win four straight) with the coaches and the team we have. It’s just great to go out and do it.”

The race featured a quick early pace, but the Gibbons’ runners used that to their advantage, even though there was never a sense of comfort during the race.

“I never really felt like I was comfortable,” Doggett said. “I didn’t expect the early pace to be that fast. There are some really fast runners so you know nothing’s going to be easy in a race like this.”

Vaughn battled her way to sixth (18:46.18) and N.C. State recruit Rachel Bartolomeo was eighth (18:53.05).

Wiggenhorn was 23rd, Laura Hart 41st and Annie Pearce 50th to round out the Gibbons lineup.

Gibbons’ boys team finished second, just six points behind state champion Matthews Weddington. The Crusaders placed five runners in the top 30, led by freshman Connor Lane (22nd in 16:23.4) and junior J.T. Klimek (23rd in 16:25.9).

Six of the seven Gibbons boys runners will return next season.

“We ran a really good second half of the race,” Mangum said. “We had a great surge but Weddington fought back. Winning a race like this isn’t easy.”

Two other Big Eight 3A Conference schools finished in the boys top five. Hillsborough Cedar Ridge was fifth and Chapel Hill took fourth.

Four Triangle area runners earned boys all-state 3A honors with their top 10 finishes: Western Harnett’s Matthew Calvelo, Cedar Ridge’s Jared Buddington, South Johnston’s Jacob Gonzalez and Collin Vilen of Chapel Hill.

In the girls’ team race, Chapel Hill took sixth and Corinth Holders was 13th, led by 11th-place individual finisher Arden Vessie. Sophomore Regan Rober was Chapel Hill’s highest finishing runner in 27th place.

Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest

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