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Two for the show, LNHS and MHS merit state finals bids
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Two for the show, LNHS and MHS merit state finals bids

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Two’s company.

The boys cross country teams hailing both from Lake Norman and Mooresville have each cooked up impressive enough performances to extend their campaigns at long as possible during this unusual season’s schedule.

The Wildcats and Blue Devils combined the on-course accomplishments of their collective fastest sets of feet to both tally the fewest amount of points allowing them to finish high enough in the finishing order from the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 4A class-level West Regional Cross Country Championship Meet to receive welcome full-team berths into this week’s state title affair.

Each appearing on the running line-up card to help for the field for the West Regional conducted on the Larry McAfee cross country course at Charlotte’s McAlpine Greenway Park, the two crosstown rivals and fellow same I-Meck Conference members both made the cut in regards to teams scoring one of the limited automatic bids to merit the trip to the boys NCHSAA 4A Cross Country Championship Meet.

Mooresville’s boys entry, fresh off the stretching of its program’s streak of conference cross country crowns to five straight earlier in the month, tallied a total of 68 points that was solid enough for an overall second-place team finish.

Lake Norman, runner-up for the I-Meck honors, chimed in just behind with its total of 78 points that secured a third-place team finish.

From the West Regional, one of several similar such competitions staged across the state to help finalize the finals field, each of the top four finishing teams qualified as full squads to advance into the state finals. The only other avenue available for entries to move on was to place among the top seven finishers who were not on any of those advancing teams.

That the competition was able to be held served as a sigh of relief for both programs. Just days before the regional was to take place, a decision was made that served to close all of Mecklenburg County recreational parks for a month as a precaution in the wake of increasing reported cases of COVID-19. However, with the cross country campaign tabled to conduct the equivalent of the state semifinals in the form of the regional event, it was allowed to be held as originally scheduled.

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That proved to be promising news for each of the two local entries.

Mooresville placed all of its contributing sets of feet among the top 20 finishers to boost its overall performance.

Team medalist Tanner Smith accounted for the silver medalist’s lone top-10 placement courtesy of his overall seventh-place finish.

Providing much-needed support came courtesy of the efforts logged in by 11th-place finishing Noah Dunn as well as 15th-place finisher Clark Kremar, 16th-place finisher Cooper Stissel and 19th-place finisher Andrew Lanning.

As is the case with all cross country meets, teams tally together the overall finishing positions of their first five to complete the course to achieve a total score. Lower points totals are the desire.

In the case of Lake Norman, it housed two of the runners – including the overall runner-up – to finish among the fastest five and surrounded those feats with enough complementary efforts to also merit a team finals bid.

The Wildcats’ Griffin Horner legged in with the regional’s overall second-fastest time, being pushed in that regard by teammate Gavin Sweeney’s overall fourth-place finish. Only the overall first-place finishing team housed as many members to finish among the top five.

Also for Lake Norman, it took into the consideration the placements of 17th-place Dalton Graves, 27th-place Brad Mankus and 28th-place Jaiden McClure to reach its team points total.

Members of both rosters will be in attendance in full when forming the field for the NCHSAA 4A state cross country finals scheduled to be held Friday morning at the Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville. Those appearances will also be used to draw the cross country campaign to a close.

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