Pack, Panthers compete in state cross country meet

Published 12:45 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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21 runners, including two regional champions will represent Northside and Washington High School at Saturday’s state cross country meet at the Ivey Redmon Complex in Kernersville.

Northside’s Andrew Harding and Kiele Scott won 1A East Regional titles Saturday on their home track.

Harding, a junior, outdueled conference nemesis Matthew Barbabella of Lejeune to capture his first regional title. He covered the 3.1 mile (5K) course in 16:59, just two seconds ahead of Barbabella to claim the title.

“I wanted a little bit of a slower pace for the first two miles, then turn on the burners for the last mile and that’s what happened,” Harding said. “I was second at the regional last year after being the top seed, so it feels great to win.”

Harding will have his teammates with him for the state championship meet as the Panthers boys team qualified third behind Lejeune and Pamlico County.

Senior Mason Newman, who finished 11th, Tucker Proctor (22), Luke Mirabella (23), Colten Smith (26), William Trent Ipock (33) and Blake Wainwright (36) will also run.

Harding was third in the 1A meet last year and both runners who finished ahead of him return.

“I’ve beaten both of them in invitationals, but they’ve both beat me,” Harding said. “The competition will be fun and I’ve worked really hard to prepare for all the hills on that course by running the hills in the Washington cemetery a lot and I’ve run out West on some hilly courses. I’m faster this year, but so are they, so it should be a great race,”

Scott passed Lejeune freshman Scarlett McLean in the last half mile to win the girls race in 21:33 for her first regional title. The girls team finished second behind the Devil Pups and will also compete Saturday at the state meet.

“I had the mental side under control day and told myself I could do it,” Scott said. “I’m really shocked that I won, but it feels great. I tried to keep a strong, steady pace to save something for the last mile. I’ve trained really hard all year and (football) Coach (Keith) Boyd has helped me in the weight room. It’s great that all that work paid off and I’m looking forward to running at the state meet.

The other Panthers girls who qualified for the state meet include Ava Hedgepeth (14), Emma Boyd (16), Emrie Scott (23), Bailey Singleton (24), Heidi Bell (25) and Starla Fuller (27).

The Washington girls team qualified for the 2A state meet for the third straight season and the fourth in the last five with a fourth place finish in the 2A East Regional in Kinston.

Sophomore Lydia Davis was seventh overall in 23:11 to earn All-Region recognition and make her second trip to the state meet.

“I love the environment there and the great competition we face,” she said. There’s somebody cheering for you around every corner and you get to see people from all over the state. It’s what we’ve worked for all year, so it will be fun to compete against everyone.”

Senior Hailey Broadwell will run in her fourth state meet along with Jessica Conner, Elizabeth Barrera, Reagan Fisher, Keelyn Plunkett and Beth Noe.