On Saturday, October 30, the Varsity Men’s Cross Country team advanced to the state championships by placing second in the NCHSAA 4-A Mideast Regional Championship Meet at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The regional meet included all twenty teams from the three conferences of the Triangle. Many of these schools, such as Broughton and Millbrook, looked to redeem themselves from losing to Leesville in the CAP8 championship meet. Other teams, like Lee County, only race Leesville during invitational meets.
Each school entered their top seven runners to race in this meet. Leesville’s team consisted of Aaron Smith, Christian Klute, Sam Sarakbi, Andrew Byrum, Bilo Hoese, Cory Fetterolf and Stephen Ryan.
These seven athletes placed in the top fifty out of roughly 150 runners. Aaron Smith, Christian Klute and Sam Sarakbi led the Pride with times of 16:05, 16:12 and 16:20, respectively.
“Over half of our runners ran personal records for the regional meet,” said Christian Klute, senior. “Although we did really well, we are going to need to improve further to win states.”
Officials calculated the final score after the race by adding up the places of the seven runners. Aaron Smith finished first on the team but came in eighth overall in front of Christian Klute (tenth overall) and Sam Sarakbi (fourteenth overall) by a few seconds. Officials place the teams with fewer points higher up in the rankings.
Leesville’s final score of 77 was not enough to knock Green Hope’s score of 67 out of first place but good enough to finish ahead of Broughton by 20 points.
“As a member of the cross country team and a spectator who did not qualify for the race and someone who has raced firsthand against many of these teams prior to the regional meet, I know that these teams are among the best in the state,” said Ben Tyner, sophomore. “And placing second in this meet is a tremendous accomplishment for our Pride.”
Leesville, Green Hope, Broughton, Enloe and Apex will move on to the state championship meet at Beeson Park in Kernersville on November 6. The Pride is looking for their fourth state championship in the school’s history.
“This is the best team Leesville has ever had by far,” said Sam Sarakbi, varsity runner and junior. “We will be victorious and reclaim the title of ‘number one’ once more for our hundreds of fans, and then after we win states, we will go to celebrate at Golden Corral.”