Watauga cross-country team runs in 4-A finals
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The 4-A boys’ race begins at 10:30 a.m., while the girls’ event starts at 11:30 a.m.
Watauga’s boys’ team returns to the state meet with a chance to reach the Top 5 of the classification after finishing third in the West Regional meet run at McAlpine Park in Charlotte. Providence and T.C. Roberson finished at the top of the regional.
Broughton, Cary and Apex also field strong teams this fall.
“If the boys run well, they are a Top 5 team,” Watauga coach Randy McDonough said. “We have not run well as a team this year. Hopefully, everyone will stay together in one race Saturday.”
Watauga senior Josh Anderson finished third in the regional with a time of 15:15. He was one of just three runners to finish under 16 minutes, and could grab a Top 10 finish Saturday.
McDonough said that for Anderson to win the event, the Watauga senior will have to run the fastest race of his life.
“Josh has a chance, but he will have to take about 20 more seconds off his time to get there,” McDonough said.
Watauga is also sending Michael Holland, Peter Vandenberg and Bryan Brackney, who all finished in the Top 21 of the regional race. Holland was 13th in the regional with a time of 16:43. Vandenberg was 20th in the regional and Brackney was 21st.
Watauga is also taking Drew Boyette, Matthew Osborne and Carson Nguyan. Osborne was 30th in the regional, Boyette was 31st and Nguyan was 37th.
The Top 5 scores are used in the overall team points total.
“We will need the 5-7 runners to pull themselves closer to the Top 4,” McDonough said. “They have been gradually doing that in the last three races.“
Watauga won’t be competing in the girls’ team competition, but Madison Harman and Doria Kosmala will compete for a Top 10 finish, which would make the all-state.
Kosmala qualified for the state race with a time of 18:59, which put her in 12th place in the Western Regional. Harman ran a time of 19:05 in the regional, which was good for 13th place.
“Based on what they did Saturday, they have a very good chance to be in the Top 10,” McDonough said. “Madison was sick and ran well, and Doria has not touched what she is capable of doing. It just started coming out on Saturday.”
Watauga will be without former state champion Darby Middlebrook, who broke her leg at the regional race. Middlebrook was leading the event when she went down to her injury.
McDonough said that Patrick Phillips, who was the 1988 state champion, was at the regional and consoled Middlebrook about her injury. He also was injured during his senior year.
McDonough also said that the fracture did not go completely through the bone, and surgery won’t be required.
Middlebrook will be on crutches for four weeks, and then she’ll be allowed to swim for another four weeks.
If everything goes according to plan, Middlebrook will be allowed to run again with eight weeks.
“Darby’s injury was heartbreaking,” McDonough said. “To see the disappointment on her face was sad. I am very proud to be Darby’s coach. I told her to be patient and to be a good patient. This is a small time in what will be a long career. She will get through it.”