High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Mitch McLeod

The football playoffs are in full swing (highlighted by Weddington's huge upset of Class 3AA favorite South Point in last weekend's first round), but not to be lost in the mix are this past weekend's cross country state championship meets.

The Class 3A meet had an upset of sorts, as Cardinal Gibbons dethroned two-time defending champ and preseason favorite Chapel Hill. Before the season, Tigers coach Ron Olsen told me that Cardinal Gibbons was one team that was a serious contender this year.

Sure enough, the Crusaders narrowly held off Chapel Hill, 47-48, behind Steven Phillips' first-place finish in a time of 15:49. Chapel Hill's Mitch McLeod (16:08) and Chris Reeder (16:13) finished third and fourth, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Crusaders' seven runners in the top 41 finishers.

In Class 4A action, Mark Blackmon accomplished a rare feat by winning his second state title in as many states. In 2009, Blackmon won the crown at Fort Mill (S.C.) and then after transferring to West Charlotte, the senior finished first again with a time of 15:34.45.

The Broughton boys won the team title, topping Mount Tabor by a count 92-100.

Click here to read more about the state meet results on Dyestat.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

North Carolina cross country preview

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
11:20
AM ET
Today we'll branch out to cross country — you know, the sport that makes most of us look ridiculously out of shape.

Following last season's undefeated campaign, the Chapel Hill Tigers are the favorite to win their third straight 3A, as Mitch McLeod, Chris Reeder and Brad Viles are back as their nucleus. (Stay tuned for the October edition of ESPNHS magazine, which has more on the Tigers.) On the other hand, Class 4A is wide open with the graduation of Blake Williams. Here's what DyeStat's Marc Bloom has to say about the upcoming season:
With 4 boys back from its 3A title team who placed 5-6-10-11 within 7 seconds, Chapel Hill has both a state and regional power. But it needs to find a solid 5th man. Green Hope, the 4A defender, loses its top 3, and runner-up South View looks like a tentative favorite. With the state’s many stars graduated, a 4A headliner has emerged in Broughton senior Sam Roberson, state 4A 3200 runner-up in 9:23.89.

Click here to get the cross country scoop on all 50 states and here to get an idea of how the girls competition could shake out.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

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