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33rd Wendy's Invitational

McAlpine Greenway, Charlotte NC

Saturday, October 6, 2007

DyeStat onsite with Brett Honeycutt

Full Girls Results - Full Boys Results - Results from Larry McAfee

 Battle of FL finalists: Griff Graves VA 15:09 over Ryan Hill 15:20
Heather Beichner's 18:35 leads her Cardinal Gibbons NC to 3A title
Alyssa Kulik SC (18:34) and Taylor Gilland NC (15:17) winners of Invite sections

  Griff Graves VA wins in 15:09 - Photo: Ken Charnock
Meet Preview

By Brett Honeycutt, Southeast Regional Editor

The 33rd Wendy’s Invitational at McAlpine Park in Charlotte, NC featured six key races, each with its share of star power, by way of either teams or individuals. With 102 schools and more than 3,100 runners from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, it offered a glimpse of what to expect near the end of the season, mostly in North Carolina but also in the region.

Note: With SAT testing affecting some teams, it was difficult to see how well all teams fared at first glimpse without knowing which runners they were missing. We long for the day when big meets and SAT testing doesn’t collide.

A breakdown of the top six races and other notes:


---- In what might turn out to be a battle of two future Foot Locker finalists, Chapel Hill, NC senior Taylor Gilland and Enloe, NC sophomore Nick Graw gave fans something to cheer about and look forward the rest of this year and all of next season.

With both pushing each other the entire race, each of them countered surges by the other in the final 400 meters to provide the best individual race of the day, even if it didn’t involve two Foot Locker finalists (i.e. boys 3A race, which was good, but never developed into a “race” because Griff Graves led from start to finish).

With about 400 meters left in the Invitational race, Graw passed Gilland on the next to the last turn around the lake before the long stretch to the finish. Then with 200 meters left, Gilland, who looked as if he didn’t have anything left with about 500 meters in the race, countered by passing Graw and holding on to win by four seconds, 15:17 to 15:21. Gilland improved 8 seconds (from 15:25) and also improved his place (he was fourth last year) from last year’s meet. Graw improved dramatically, which was expected since he ran 15:56 as a ninth grader in this race last year and finished 12th.

Of note: Eighth grader Mark Blackmon of Fort Mill, SC was fourth in 16:10, after finishing in 15:47 last year.

--- The team race was nearly as good and, going in, the thinking was it was a two-horse race: Broughton and Enloe, both from Raleigh, NC, are the state’s top two 4A schools and each had beaten SE No. 10 Western Albemarle earlier in the season. The day before, Broughton had just moved into the Southeast Region Top 10, at No. 9, and Enloe remained a SE Bubble team.

Enloe, though, upended its rival by winning, 104-119. Two-time national qualifier and two-time reigning North Carolina 4A champion Chapel Hill was third (163); SE Bubble team Brookwood, GA fourth (192) and SE Bubble team South Forsyth, GA was fifth (211). Brookwood had some difficulties, with one top runner not finishing and another getting injured in the race.

The difference for Enloe was packing its 2-5 runners between 23-30. Broughton was steady through the first four, putting those at 12, 17, 19 and 28, but was hurt by its fifth runner at 43rd.


Just because schools are smaller, doesn’t mean they can’t compete. Evidence? The 3A boys’ race, with SE Bubble teams Mooresville, NC and Westminster, GA going head-to-head, and Foot Locker finalists Ryan Hill of Hickory, NC (2006 Southeast Regional champion) and Griff Graves of Abingdon, VA.

---- People will talk about the matchup of Graves and Hill, but not mentioned is how dull of a race it turned out to be because Graves asserted himself early, took the top spot and no one was close enough to Graves to challenge until Graves was walking in the finish chute.

Another thing that might not be mentioned is Hill and his absence from racing until Saturday. Hill had not raced in four weeks after two early-season victories at two big races, one against Foot Locker finalist Luke Lovelace (Chapin, SC). The less-than-sharp racing showed (Hill never seemed in striking distance the last half of the race, running well behind Graves most of the race). Testament to that was Hill’s time. Last year at this race, he ran 14:55 and Graves ran 15:03 (both ran 3A race last year, too). No doubt, the warmer weather on Saturday played a little bit into the slower times, but consider Graves was only 6 seconds slower than last year’s time and Hill was a whopping 25 seconds slower.

Mooresville’s Patrick Campbell was third in 15:28 and Stefan Shealy of Broome, SC was fourth in the race (15:35). Shealy is the two-time South Carolina 2A champion and was 23rd at the Southeast Regional last year with a time of 15:34.

--- In the team race, Mooresville beat Westminster 55-68. It would have been nice if both teams could have run in the Invitational race, but on the other hand, spreading the teams out in different races gives each race quality teams up top.

Mooresville, led by Patrick Campbell’s 15:28, had 5 in the top 19 and 6 in the top 23 and 7 in the top 28, with Westminster spreading their top five runners from 7-20. Westminster’s No. 2 runner, Knox Sutterfield, was sick during the week, and he ran No. 4 (in 16th place) on Saturday, so the team scores could have been closer. That’s why they run the races.


The second-tier race of the meet, but the team race and individual race were both tight.

--- The individual title came down to two sophomores: Mick Francis of Clover, SC and Mohamed Abushouk of Cary, NC. Francis showed a strong closing kick down the stretch and won in 16:14. Abushouk ran 16:25 for second.

--- The team race came down to North Gwinnett, GA and Cary, NC, with North Gwinnett winning 79-83. Both are ranked No. 8 in their respective state classification rankings, North Gwinnett in Georgia 5A and Cary in North Carolina 4A.


Unfortunately, Peter Dorrell of Blacksburg, VA had to run in the “individual” races, usually reserved for non-top 7 runners. Coming off a huge win at Maymont in Richmond, VA, it would have been nice to see him run against Graves and Hill or have all the big guns in one race. But I guess that’s what Foot Locker is for, right?

Anyway, Dorrell ran easy, getting familiar with a course he will run at Foot Locker in late November. He won in 15:48.

Note: Meet management has always structured the meet to be team-oriented, so anyone without a team has always run in the “individual” races, which follow the top six races. Those fields have become popular through the years, allowing coaches to run more athletes while giving non-top 7 runners a feel for the big meet atmosphere. How popular. Before, it was one race and girls and boys would run together. Now, it has four races, broken down into boys’ freshman/sophomore; boys’ junior/senior; girls’ freshman/sophomore; girls’ junior/senior; and now are broken into


--- In the closest team race of the day, the top three teams (Mauldin, SC; TC Roberson, NC and Chapel Hill, NC) each won state titles last year and are eyeing another run.

The point margin from first to third was 3 points and coming out on top was Mauldin, the two-time reigning South Carolina 4A champion, by two points (120-122) against TC Roberson, which has won the past three North Carolina 3A titles. In third was Chapel Hill (123), the two-time reigning North Carolina 4A champion.

A close look at the results, though, shows it wouldn’t have been close had Roberson had its No. 1 runner Caroline Kirby, who had won the past two North Carolina 3A individual titles (she didn’t run because she was taking the SAT).

Roberson’s pack was tighter, as well, putting their top five from 13-30 compared to Mauldin (1-52) and Chapel Hill (5-39).

---- This race rivaled the boys’ invitational race for best of the day, with two-time South Carolina 4A champion Alyssa Kulik and two-time South Carolina 3A champion Kate Borowicz challenging until the final stretch, with Kulik redeeming herself from an earlier loss this season to Borowicz and winning 18:34 to 18:36. Andie Cozzarelli of Apex, NC was back in third in 18:47 and Tara Wilson of South Caldwell, NC was the only other runner to break 19, finishing in 18:57. Chapel Hill’s Madison Stark was close, though, finishing in 19:00.

The race wasn’t a two-person race until well after the halfway mark, showing the strength, closing speed and racing savvy of Kulik and Borowicz, the No. 1 ranked runner in South Carolina before the race.


--- The fastest girls’ time of the day came out of this race when Northwestern (SC) senior Mary Kate DuBard continued to drop time by winning in a PR 18:11.

Before the race, she had cut nearly 1 minute, 20 seconds off her personal best, but a disciplined summer of training has allowed her to become the No. 2 ranked runner in South Carolina and No. 1 in 4A.

On Saturday, DuBard and North Mecklenburg’s Kimberly Spano, the reigning North Carolina 4A champion, were alone through the first mile. Then, DuBard eased ahead on the hill, about halfway through the race, and held a 5 second lead coming off the hill and an 11 second lead at two miles (DuBard came through in 11:34 and Spano crossed in 11:45).

DuBard won by 36 seconds, crossing in 18:11. Spano finished in 18:47.

--- The team race went down to North Carolina 4A schools Cary and Providence, which has won or finished second in the North Carolina 4A championship race the last four years.

Cary took 2 of the top 8 and runners 3-5 were packed between 20th and 26th to easily beat SE Bubble team Providence, 85-121. Providence was missing two top 7 runners (one from injury and another who was taking the SAT) and has yet to run with its full team this season.


--- It would have been nice to see Cardinal Gibbons in the Invitational race because it dominated this one, winning easily, 32-89 against Asheville, NC. Though it likely shakes out, timewise, that Gibbons would have lost had it been in the invitational, again, its tough to tell without the runners actually competing in the same race (all of the mish-mashing of times makes for nice banter, but is no substitute for true head-to-head competition).

Gibbons, a recent power in North Carolina, won 5 of 6 private school 3A state titles from 1999 through 2004 before moving to the public school league and winning the last two state 3A titles.

Gibbons won Saturday’s race by placing 4 in the top 8, including Heather Beichner’s win in 18:35, and 6 in the top 15 (top 4 runners, Beichner, Molly Baker in 19:28, Sarah Rapp in 19:47 and Halsey Merritt in 19:59, were under 20:00). No one had a chance.

--- Beichner wasn’t as dominant winning the individual title, but her kick was. Beichner and North Henderson, NC runner Sarah Williamson ran together through the 2 mile mark, but Beichner began pulling away from Williamson with about 600 meters to go in the race and won by 9 seconds, 18:35 to 18:46. Coming in a distant third was Beichner’s teammate, Molly Baker, at 19:28.


Boys 3A Race May Highlight Wendy's - Preview

By Brett Honeycutt
Southeast Regional Editor

The oldest and one of the largest high school cross country invitationals in the Southeast gets underway this weekend in Charlotte, N.C., and it has promise to be one of the best.

The 33rd Wendy’s Invitational at the famed McAlpine Greenway Park course, site of the Foot Locker South Regional since 1982, will feature 102 schools and more than 3,100 athletes from six states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia)

There will be six main races:
  • Open girls at 9 a.m.;
  • Open boys at 9:30 a.m.;
  • Invitational girls at 10 a.m.;
  • Invitational boys at 10:30 a.m.;
  • 3A girls at 11 a.m. and
  • 3A boys at 11:30 a.m.

Unfortunately, the set up of this meet doesn’t try and pair the top teams or individuals. However, because of this set up, it makes for competitive races in each division. Usually the Invitational division is the top division, and for the team race that’s the case. But the 3A boys’ race seems to be the top race for individuals.

Four of the meet’s top six boys will run in the 3A race:
  • Ryan Hill, Hickory, N.C.: 2006 Foot Locker Southeast Regional champion with a best at McAlpine of 14:46, the N.C. record for the course.
  • Griff Graves, Abingdon, Va.: 2006 Foot Locker Finals qualifier
  • Patrick Campbell, Mooresville, N.C.: Fourth-place Maymont finisher and leader should run at least in the mid 15’s for this race and maybe even lower.
  • Stefan Shealy, Broome, S.C.: Two-time South Carolina 2A champion was 23rd at the Southeast Regional last year with a time of 15:34.
  • Hartley Tucker and Knox Sutterfield, Westminster, Ga.: Both finished in top 6 of Georgia 3A championships last year and lead a Westminster team ranked No. 1 in Georgia 3A.
Although not ranked as high, the Invitational boys’ field has a solid field.
  • Taylor Gilland, Chapel Hill, N.C.: Skipped last year’s Foot Locker Southeast Regional to rest up and compete at NTN. He ran 9:14 in track as sophomore last year and also 4:19. Has a best of 15:27 this season and could break 15 on the McAlpine Park if the weather is right. Look for low 15’s, at least.
  • Nick Graw, Enloe, N.C.: Has a best of 15:50 and leads a tightly-packed Enloe team.
  • Brett Baggett, Pinecrest, N.C..: Has a best of 16:00 this season, but that should come down Saturday.
  • Mark Blackmon, Fort Mill, S.C.: As a 7th grader last year, he ran an incredible 15:47 here and was third at the S.C. 4A championships. Look for big things in the future.
  • Josh Vasquez, Dobyns-Bennett, TN.: Finished fourth at the Tennessee 4A championships in 2006.
  • Matt Scanlon, J.L. Mann, S.C.: Is ranked No. 4 in South Carolina’s all-class rankings and was fourth at the South Carolina 3A meet last year.
  • Nick Carter, Enloe: Up-and-coming runner for Enloe and complements Graw with a solid 1-2 punch. Has run 16:11 this season, but he could dip under 16 on a fast course with strong competition.
Unlike the boys meet, the Invitational girls race is loaded with 10 of the meet’s top 16 runners. Look for Kate Borowicz of J.L. Mann, SC and Michelle Lutz of Jordan, NC to challenge for the title.
  • Kate Borowicz, J.L. Mann, SC: Has won the last two South Carolina 3A titles and is the No. 1 ranked runner in South Carolina this season.
  • Michelle Lutz, Jordan, NC: Although she finished fourth at the North Carolina 4A meet last year, she has the fastest time in the state this season at 18:45 and is the early favorite to win the 4A title this year.
  • Alyssa Kulik, Mauldin, SC: Won the South Carolina 4A title last year.
  • Andie Cozzarelli, Apex, NC: Was runner-up at last year’s North Carolina 4A meet last year and won the 3,200-meter title at last year’s 4A championships.
  • Sydney Hazel, Summerville, SC: Only a freshman, but has run 18:58 this season.
  • Tara Wilson, South Caldwell, NC: Has run 18:54 this season.
  • Caroline Kirby, Roberson, NC: Has won the past two North Carolina 3A titles.
  • Melanie Novack, Bartram Trail, FL: Has run 19:11, but should come down considerably in this loaded field.
  • Evie Tate, Spartanburg, SC: A seventh grader who is ranked fifth in South Carolina and has run 19:17.
  • Katie Magee, Raleigh Enloe, JR.: Although she’s run 19:23, she is considered one of the best runners in North Carolina. She should shave off some time in this race.
The best runners in the other girls races:

In the Open race:
  • Mary Kate DuBard, Northwestern, SC: No. 2 ranked runner in South Carolina regardless of classification and has run 18:22 this season and two more times in the 18:30’s.
  • Kimberly Spano, North Mecklenburg, NC: Won last year’s North Carolina 4A title and has a best of 17:59 at McAlpine, but only has run 18:47 this year.
In the 3A race:
  • Heather Beichner, Cardinal Gibbons, NC.: Won last year’s North Carolina 2A title and has run 18:46 this season.
  • Sarah Willingham, North Henderson, NC: Looks to be in the top five at the North Carolina 2A championships and has run 19:20 this season. Look for that to drop on Saturday.
  • The meet will feature 34 boys teams that are ranked in their state and 31 girls teams that are ranked.
  • Although the meet will have six No. 1 ranked boys teams, Broughton, NC (4A); Mooresville, NC (3A); Owen, NC (2A); Westminster, GA. (3A); Wando, SC (4A) and J.L. Mann, SC (3A), they won’t compete in the same race. Broughton, Owen, Wando and J.L. Mann will go head-to-head in the Invitational division. Mooresville will face Westminster in the 3A race.
  • Same with the girls. There are four No. 1 teams, Chapel Hill, NC (4A); Roberson, NC (3A); Cardinal Gibbons, NC (2A) and Mauldin, SC (4A), but only three will go head-to-head: Chapel Hill, Roberson and Mauldin in the Invitational division. Cardinal Gibbons should dominate the 3A girls’ race.
  • There will also be four individual state champions, but Taylor Gilland will have to go it alone in the Invitational division. Again the best race has Ryan Hill, the two-time North Carolina 3A champion, Stefan Shealy, the two-time South Carolina 2A champion and Griff Graves, the two-time Virginia 2A champion.
  • Although the girls have five individual state champions, they will be spread over all three races. N.C. 4A champion Kimberly Spano of North Mecklenburg will race in the Open Division; Two-time North Carolina 3A champion Caroline Kirby of Roberson will face South Carolina 4A champion Kate Borowicz of J.L. Mann and South Carolina 4A champion Alyssa Kulik of Mauldin; North Carolina 2A champion Heather Beichner of Cardinal Gibbons will run in the 3A race.