GREENVILLE — The West Carteret girls were projected to barely win the cross country 3A east regional Saturday at Boyd Lee Park, while the boys were projected to finish eighth.
Instead, the girls claimed their ninth title in the past 10 years with ease, and the boys finished a surprising runner-up.
“That is one of the best (regional) Saturdays we’ve had since I’ve been here,” West coach Shelton Mayo said. “We didn’t sweep, but for the boys to get second, that was well-earned. The boys ran tremendously. There are only eight plaques in the entire state on regional weekend, the winner and runner-up, so to get one of those, you did something right.”
Mayo, who is in his 19th year as coach, saw his teams sweep the regional on three straight occasions from 2014-2017, as well as in 2005. Both teams have qualified for the state meet every year since 2007. This year, however, it wasn’t a given the boys would qualify for the 13th year in a row.
“This was the most worried I’ve ever been about the boys qualifying, and I told them so,” Mayo said. “They were projected eighth, and we were hoping for top five. We hoped we could sneak in and get fourth, maybe even third, but realistically, we were looking at fifth to seventh. To finish second, we were not expecting that.”
D.H. Conley took the meet with 46 points. West edged Topsail and Northern Nash by 10 points for second with 143. The Pirates and Knights each posted 153 points followed in fifth place by Coastal Conference champion White Oak with 166.
Coastal Conference individual champion Jack Lindstrom gave the Patriots their top placer in 10th with a time of 16 minutes, 57 seconds.
Josh Marson placed 24th in 17:43. Danny Matagolai finished 32nd in 17:48.
“Josh had a nice rebound race after a rough conference race, and Danny was consistent and ran well,” Mayo said.
Freshmen took the next two spots with Da-Ryan Williams placing 37th in 17:54 and Landon Gray ending up 40th in 17:56. Senior Nate Westbrook was 46th in 18:02.
“They were the ones,” Mayo said. “They carried us through. When I saw those three close to Josh and Danny at the 2-mile mark, I knew it was going to be a good day if they could hold on. Almost all the boys ran their best times of the year.”
Zach Johnson rounded out the West runners in 61st in 18:30.
The Patriots earned the win in the girls meet with 34 points. Topsail was the runner-up with 58.
The West and Topsail girls had matched up in two previous races with the Patriots taking sixth and the Pirates 10th at the NC Runners Invitational and the Pirates taking second and the Patriots third at the Bo Run.
“The girls were supposed to win, but Topsail was supposed to be right on our heels,” Mayo said. “We beat them at Kernersville, they beat us at the Bo Run at Boyd Lee, so you’re pretty nervous when you are running on that same course at the regional. That was a little nerve-wracking, but the girls were ready. They weren’t scared.”
Five of the West girls made all-region by finishing in the top 10, and all but Morgan Mason, who was 18 tenths of a second over 20 minutes, broke the 20-minute barrier.
“I think that is the most phenomenal girls performance that I’ve ever coached,” Mayo said. “That was just crazy. I was just so impressed and happy for those girls. I don’t think we’ve ever had four girls go 20-and-under. Three is the most I can ever
remember. We wanted four this race and got five, so that was unbelievable. Coach (Joanna) Miller, coach (Marshall) Windsor, we were all so excited.”
A West girls runner has held the Boyd Lee Park course record for nearly a decade with Blake Dodge, then Emme Fisher and then Jenna Reiter.
Topsail freshman Kaitlyn Obresmki set the new record at 17:30 to win the regional crown. West Johnston’s Hayley Whoolery wasn’t far behind in 17:34. Reiter took third in 18:20.
“Jenna ran great, but those girls for Topsail and West Johnston to run in the 17:30s, they were both crazy fast,” Mayo said. “That Topsail freshman is unreal. I think the 3A east girls are going to make some noise at states.”
West’s Ariana Wolkerstorfer placed fifth in 19:37, followed by Eliza Craig Parker, seventh in 19:52; Bowen Ellis ninth in 19:58; and Mason, 10th in 20:00.
“Our top three handled business, but to see Bowen and Morgan go 20-and-under was great,” Mayo said. “Those two girls really stepped it up.”
Freshman Grace Guilford ended up 32nd in 21:58, while junior Sydney Eure took 43rd in 22:19.