Cross Country Gears up for Championship Competition
The cross country season was fittingly a marathon, not a sprint.
DA’s season began in summer, long before the school year. This summer the Cavs spent daily 6 a.m. mornings at the Chapel Hill North trails to escape the sweltering heat. The long journey to autumn has been a successful one, riddled with personal records (PRs), course and season best times, and fantastic showings at big meets. Both B teams have run well, too, including sophomore Tigey Jewell-Alibhai’s DA Invitational B race victory.
The heart of this season featured superb performances at the Adidas Cross Country Challenge and the Greensboro Invitational. The Adidas meet was easily the season’s largest meet, with over 1,000 runners competing in multiple races. The girls were led by Anneke Dekker and Cami Simpson in times of 21:14 and 22:06, placing 21st out of 33 top teams. The boys ran the championship race as one of two NC private schools. Junior Ethan Goldman led the way in 16:22 with help from a 1-minute season best 17:29 from sophomore Jack Anderson. The boys finished 25th out of 37.
The following weekend previewed the state championship course at Hagan Stone Park for the Greensboro Invitational. The boys were led by sophomore Neil Mosca’s 16:46 and freshman phenom Mark Alkins’s 16:54. Alkins is an incredible talent and is the third fastest freshman in the state. Unfortunately, the boys fell short in their effort to podium, but still hung on for 3rd out of 18 schools. The girls placed 12th out of 15 teams and had excellent races from both the 3rd and 4th runners freshman Claire Middleton, finishing in 23:41, and junior Lauren Harpole following closely in 23:42.
Recently at home, the girls placed fourth in the Durham City County Championships. Both Simpson and Dekker notched top ten spots, placing 6th and 8th. Simpson recorded a season best of 21:30 and freshman Fran Pacchiana added a personal best of 22:18. The boys placed second behind Jordan High School highlighted by freshman Mac Hays’s 22nd place finish and PR of 18:47. Goldman finished in 4th and Alkins followed in 5th.
The girls and boys were preparing for runs at the TISAC and NCISAA State Championships and it was finally time for that work to pay off. Captain Safiya Gallaghan said in order to get ready, “everyone needs to relax and rest.” The taper in training will be crucial in the coming weeks. Simpson hoped that her teammates are proud of all of the hard work they have put in and said that “It’s the teamwork and the camaraderie that really make a difference.” The girls counted on that camaraderie the next week when Simpson and Dekker looked to finish in the top ten and earn All-Conference recognition.
Mosca was reflective and said the team has worked hard to fill a spot left by a significant transfer. He credited team leadership and culture as major factors in overcoming that challenge. “We don’t have just one leader on this team. All of us have to be leaders. We have to look out for each other,” he said. Jack Anderson and senior captain Nijel Hunt have worked hard to hold their teammates accountable. Anderson regularly hyped the team before meets and holded the team together. Hunt, optimistic, said that “with the training and the experience, we could possibly win states and conferences.”
The Cavs competed for both TISAC and NCISAA Championships against rival Cary Academy on Oct. 20 and 28 to cap off the season.