COPYRIGHT 2007 Winston-Salem Journal
Byline: Jay Spivey
Nov. 1–The Reagan cross-country teams are hoping that some of the magic they had in regional competition last weekend will follow them to Tanglewood Park for Saturday’s NCHSAA 3-A championships.
Reagan swept the Midwest 3-A team titles in Charlotte, but Ed Thutt — Reagan’s girls coach — knows that a great deal will have to fall into place for his team to unseat Asheville Roberson, which has won three straight 3-A girls state titles and eight of the past 11.
Last fall at Tanglewood, Roberson finished 60 points ahead of runner-up Asheville and 62 ahead of third-place Reagan.
In regional competition last weekend, Reagan’s girls put their five scoring runners in the top 12 and won the Midwest title with 40 points. Roberson won the West with 18 points, three off a perfect score.
Laurie Humphrey led Reagan with a third-place regional finish (19:45), and Leslie Raymond (fourth in 19:47), Elizabeth Chafee (10th in 20:17), Kayla Polonsky (11th in 20:34) and Shelby Phillips (12th in 20:36) also had strong showings.
Caroline Kirby, the two-time defending state champion, led Roberson with a regional victory in 19:16. Marie Mauhar (second in 19:21), Stephanie Chapman (fourth in 19:37), Laura Hoer (fifth in 19:40), Zoe Dubin (sixth in 19:42) and Kylie Smith (ninth in 20:02) also finished in the top 10, and Smith didn’t factor into the team scoring.
Thutt said that winning Saturday isn’t as important as having his runners do their best in a state-championship atmosphere.
“We expected them to do well (at the regional), but as always, we are pleasantly surprised when they exceed our expectations,” Thutt said. “Our philosophy is that we want these kids to be the best athletes that they can be. We don’t put an emphasis on winning certain things. We just want them to perform the best they can.
Thutt said he hopes that Reagan can one day be on the same level as Roberson.
“They’re a fantastic program, they have been for a long time,” Thutt said. “We would love to achieve the same success that they have.”
Thutt said that even though the Raiders appear to have the depth to push Roberson, depth isn’t one of his team’s strengths. He wants his runners to go out quickly and maintain their positions.
Humphrey, who finished seventh in last year’s state meet in 19:41, said that Reagan has a better chance of defeating Roberson than it would appear to on paper.
“I really do (we have a chance to win),” she said.
“I really think our team has a whole lot of talent, and I think it’s a possibility that we can.
“Not to say that Roberson is not good, because they have so much talent. I think our team can really put up a fight because we work really hard and we want it a lot.”
Raymond, who was 26th at last year’s state meet, said that one of the things that allows the Raiders to compete at a high level comes from doing things together other than running. She said that team members meet the night before races for pasta parties.
She also said that Reagan’s top five runners need to finish 20th or higher.
“Everybody will have to be out there, like leaving nothing on the course,” Raymond said.
“This is going to be our last race (of the year), so you shouldn’t want to leave anything.
“You should want to race your hardest, leave nothing behind, and nothing to regret.”
The Reagan boys, led by Nick Freeman and Austin Jones, will be trying to improve on a fifth-place finish at last year’s state meet.
Freeman, a senior, was third in last weekend’s regional (16:13), Jones was fifth (16:47), and Jack Anderson (11th in 17:14) and Seth Anderson (13th in 17:19) contributed to the team victory.
At last year’s 3-A state meet, Jones was 24th, and Freeman ran 36th while battling tendinitis.
“I think they main difference between this meet and all the other ones is this is my last one,” Freeman said of Saturday’s race. “So I’m just going to go out with a strong finish. I’m just going to try and run hard. If I do well, that will be great, and if I don’t do so well, then I know that I came and tried hard.”
Ryan Hill of Hickory is the individual favorite and two-time defending champion.
Mooresville, led by Patrick Campbell, is the favorite to repeat as the team champion, and Coach Sinclair Seavey of Reagan said that his goal is a top-four finish.
“We’ve been ranked anywhere between third and fourth throughout the course of this year,” Seavey said, referring to the state coaches’ poll, “so I hope that we can be in that range — third or fourth. If we get the opportunity to stand on that platform (top three), I’ll be one of the happiest guys here.”
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Copyright (c) 2007, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.
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