by Aaron Garcia
Entering the Class 1A Midwestern Regional cross country meet Oct. 30 at Kernersville’s Beeson Park, Lake Norman Charter coach Craig Zamiara knew both his girls and boys teams could do well. The question was: How well?
“Looking at what we’ve done all year long, I kind of knew that (the boys team) could experiment a little bit with the course, fine-tune it for the state meet and still win it,” said Zamiara. “On the girls side, there were four or five teams that I thought could potentially win the meet that day. When you can only pick four teams to go to the state meet, I knew we needed to run a good race that day.”
And that’s exactly what both sides did.
The Knights won the boys race after posting four top-10 times, led by Jordan Phillips’s 16-minute, 46-second performance, which landed him in second. Teammate Erik Foran was right behind and posted a third-place time of 17:03. Juniors Chris Hack (17:13) and Michael Westbay (17:23) finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
On the girls side, Sarah Hardin’s (20:07) fourth-place finish, along with Stephanie Zaino’s (20:37) ninth place posting helped propel the girls to a second-place finish. In all, five Lake Norman Charter girls finished in the top 25. According to Zamiara, five of them recorded personal bests at the regional meet.
“It was very rewarding to see them run to the best of their ability at that big of a show,” said the coach.
The Knights were able to parlay their success at regionals into a strong showing at the Class 1A state meet on Nov. 6, also held at Beeson Park. The girls team nearly took the title, falling to Hendersonville by only two points, 68-70. Hardin led the way with an All-State qualifying time of 19:48.49, good for fourth. The boys also fared well, finishing in third behind state champion Robbinsville and Durham’s North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics. Phillips took sixth in 16:44.06 and was joined in the top 10 by fellow senior Foran, who finished 10th (16:51.63). Both times earned all-state honors.