News: Harriers open invitational season at Providence
The Falcons began the invitational portion of their season by heading to Charlotte for the Providence Invitational on August 26. GHXC has had a history of success in this big early-season race, and this success continued in 2017.
The girls invitational race was the first of the day at 8:00 AM, and the girls were ready to see where they stand with the season’s first 5K. The girls went out fast and had a strong pack of 4 in the top 15 at the mile mark. The pack started to break up a bit around 2 miles and the girls fell from 1st to 2nd late in the race, but managed to earn the runner-up spot. Kelsey Vogel ran a strong race to finish 7th overall (19:09). She was followed by Tess Davila (11th, 19:16), Zoey Davila (13th, 19:17), Catherine Holbrook (19:45), and Sophia Veilleux (20:36).
The second race of the day was the boys invitational. Green Hope (ranked 8th in the U.S. preseason MileSplit rankings) held out its top 6 boys for the race, so there was a little uncertainty how the Falcons would fare. Much like the girls race the boys went after it. At the mile mark there was a large lead pack of 20 runners with 3 GH boys in the group at 5:08. Two others were just off the lead pack and at the 1.5 mile mark the Falcons were right in the mix. Weddington made a strong move in the last mile to earn the win and the Falcons finished in 3rd, three points off second-place Hilton Head (SC). As this race featured Green Hope’s #7-13 runners, it was a pretty impressive performance. The boys were led by sophomore Thomas Vo (11th, 16:22), junior Reed Blackman (21st, 16:36), junior Spencer Cowley (22nd, 16:43), senior Luke Bakley (17:07), and junior Michael Biddle (17:13).
After the first two races, the Falcons had to wait one hour for the Open Races to finish before they hit the course again. The girls JVs have dominated this race for years, and today would be another chapter in that history. Through the mile and heading up the hill, the top five GH girls trailed the lead runner from another team. After ascending then descending the hill all 5 made a move and GH entered the final loop holding positions 1-5 and it was just a matter of which of the five girls would pull out the individual win. Meg Penaganti (1st 20:55) held off teammates Bailey Fowler (21:04), Natasha Abramowicz (21:09), Emma Benson (21:23), and Morgan Peele (21:33) as the Falcons earned a perfect score of 15! Freshman Rebecca Robinson (7th 21:56) and junior Julie Tonon (10th 22:17) also earned top 10 finishes.
The final race of the day (and the warmest!) was the boys JV race. Much like the boys varsity race, there was a little uncertainty to this race as several boys who would normally race in the JV race had already run in the varsity race. That meant the Falcons needed others to step up to continue the long history of GH boys’ success in this race. Sophomore Liam McBride raced to the front and battled the top runner from Central Davidson from start to finish to finish 2nd with a new PR of 17:21. The rest of the GH boys went back and forth with Weddington from start to finish, but fought right to the end and pulled out another GH victory as the Falcons won 44-52 and topped a field of 35 teams. Scorers 2-5 for the Falcons were sophomore Sam Eyerman (18:40), sophomore Seth Young (18:41), sophomore Jack Zhang (18:45), and junior Hiromu Koyama (18:46).
Overall it was a very good day for the Falcons. The next invitational will be for the boys as they head to Kernersville and race in Friday Night Lights September 8.