Knights pursue ultimate prize
by Staff Writer
Lake Norman Charter’s cross country teams are definitely running in the right direction.
The Knights boys and girls teams each handily won the 1A Western Regional championship on Oct. 29 and have good chances to capture state championships on Saturday, Nov. 5, in Kernersville.
“On the girls side, if we race like we have all season, we can win,” Lake Norman Charter coach Craig Zamiara said. “Bishop McGuinness girls will be the top competition. We’ve gone head-to-head with them in a couple of competitions this season.”
Lake Norman Charter’s girls won the regional event by placing four runners among the top nine and five in the top 17 among 67 competitors.
Junior Sarah Hardin (20 minutes, 17.06 seconds) won the individual championship. Fellow junior Stephanie Zaino (20:29.45) was second.
Danielle Clark (21:33) was seventh, Lauren Swift (21:44) ninth, and Holy Miller (22:26) 17th.
The Knights’ team score of 35 easily bested runner-up Hendersonville’s 116.
The boys regional championship was equally dominant. Lake Norman Charter had five of the top 13 runners in the race of 82 competitors. Senior Michael Westbay (17:15) was third, followed by Jordan Wallace (fourth, 17:19), Chris Mack (sixth, 17:30), Matt Panza (11th, 18:01) and Sean Kenney (18:11).
Lake Norman Charter’s score of 37 easily outdistanced second-place Mitchell County’s 100.
“The boys competition (at the state meet) is going to be tough,” Zamiara said.
Both Lake Norman Charter teams will benefit from having raced at the state championships the past two years. And Zamiara said his experienced runners have been providing the newbieswith details about what to expect and how to prepare.
“The first year we went, we got really nervous and worked up,” he said. “Last year was a little different. We went through it and knew what it was about. The boys were No. 1 all season, and (at the state meet) didn’t rise to it.
“We’re handling it a lot better this season, so I think we’re in better position than we have been in the past. They’re not pressing.”
Zamiara’s tough scheduling this season is paying off. Lake Norman Charter has run in several invitational meets against strong competition, including the Providence High Invitational and the Jungle Run, among others.
Zamiara said the teams have bonded, in large part, on their own. Last summer, he gathered the five runners he was considering to be team captains. He gave them a sheet of paper to write what they thought a captain should be, what they didn’t like from the previous season and what they’d like to change.
“The one thing they all wrote was they all wanted to be closer as a team, closer as a family,” Zamiara said. “They wanted to do more team activities. Nothing dealt with the running aspect.”
So instead of coaches formulating the team activities, the captains took over.
Team dinners. A team trip to Scare-O-Winds. Another trip to the Maize Maze. Bonfire nights at team members’ houses.
“That just builds the attitude that `I need to run a little bit better for my team instead of just for myself,’” Zamiara said.
The girls captains are Casey Knosby, Bethany Ross and Megan Somloi. The boys captains are Nathan Farber and Hack.
“All my runners want to do well,” Zamiara said. “They push themselves and want to do well at the regional and state meets.”