Five Things To Watch Out For At NC State XC Championships

* In this clip from the latest episode of On The Line, the gang discuss some storylines heading into the NCHSAA State XC Championships 


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Cross country hasn't lost any of its luster, especially as it continues through the winter in North Carolina. 

With cautions over COVID-19 delaying last year's state championships, runners from North Carolina will finally culminate their seasons on Friday and Saturday at Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville with a chance to earn state placements and team championships. 

With that being said, here are the five things to watch heading into the weekend. 

* Croatan's Elliott Kleckner heads into the NCHSAA Class 2A race as one of the field's favorites

5. Who Will Be The Surprise Standout Of The State Championships?

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This question could have multiple right answers. 

In Class 3A, Topsail's Kaitlyn Obremski has been undefeated over nine straight races this season dating back to November. She was fifth at state in 2019. 

But Obremski will get a race alongside Harnett Central's Sierra Collins, a North Carolina State recruit who has won five races over the season, or Chapel Hill's Abby Weber, who won that Mideast regional in 18:21.52.

Over in the boys field, there's Ardrey Kell's Murphy Smith, who currently leads all North Carolina athletes in time over the season with a top 5K of 15:06.08. The Class 4A runner was fourth last year. 

Or there are Class 2A runners like Elliott Kleckner, who won his Class 2A East Regional in 15:53.15 -- and has an inspiring story as well

Just who will run the fastest? 

While undetermined, Ivey Redmon could make for some fast times, weather permitting.

4. Who's Going To Have The Fastest Boys Team Average?

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While Weddington's history -- three titles over the last decade -- certainly has its merit, the boys of Millbrook or Hoggard could make an argument in Class 4A. Come to think of it, Weddington should watch out for Chapel Hill, too. 

Hoggard defeated Millbrook on a tiebreaker in the regionals, but both averaged under 17 minutes. Millbrook was a shade faster at 16:52, while Hoggard came in at 16:55.

Chapel Hill, meanwhile, averaged 16:07 at the Mideast Regional across a 22-second spread. At the Midwest Regional, Weddington ran 16:42 over a 66-second compression. 

Naturally, courses are different across the board. But ultimately, numbers don't lie: The overall merge will reveal that winner in due time.

3. Two-Peats From Two Small School Athletes

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While Carmen Alder will eye her third straight title in Class 4A, Franklin Academy's Aaron Rovnak and North Lincoln's Angie Allen will look to clean up in Class 1A and 2A, respectively. 

Both athletes seem to be in a good position to do so, as they're both coming off regional victories this past weekend. Rovnak rank 15:59.51 to earn a victory at the 1A Mideast Regional, while Allen took the tape at the 2A West Regional in 18:09.45.

Both ran on this course in October as well. 

2. Can Weddington's Boys And Girls Sweep 3A?

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In Class 3A, Weddington seems to be in a position to potentially earn victories in both the girls and boys fields.

If only the girls can beat Cutherbertson, according to NC Runners.

But can the Warriors accomplish that feat? 

The Weddington boys, who have the better overall history, last won in 2018, while the girls didn't win a single title over the last decade. 

Led by senior Wesley Larson, the boys are coming off a 20-point win at regionals and a 16:42 average. The girls, meanwhile, were runner-ups to Cutherbertson by five points -- though their overall spread was just 34-seconds. 

1. Carmen Alder Vying For Third State Title

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It's no secret

Pinecrest's Carmen Alder is looking to close out her high school cross country career with her third straight victory in Class 4A. 

The BYU commit -- whose season began in September with a 5K best of 16:58.90 -- looks likely to do it, considering in October she ran a course record of 17:11.17 at the NC Runners Invitational ... which was held on the state course. 

Given that Alder is coming off a regional performance where she ran 17:25.05, and that she enters the meet as the top seed by over 30 seconds, there's a strong likelihood that she claims this feat.

Keep in mind, Alder also ran 16:54.25 on the track for 5K in December at the Five and Dime Athletics Meeting.

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