Such is life when you’ve got a reputation as a perennial state contender like Chapel Hill does.
“We haven’t seen those guys because they don’t go to the big races like we do,” Chapel Hill coach Kelly Williams said.
What is known is that as long as Chapel Hill shows up, it shouldn’t have much trouble winning region championships in the boys’ and girls’ races.
Chapel Hill’s girls come in ranked fourth in Class AAA, while the boys’ team is ranked 10th. None of the other teams in Region 4-AAA is state ranked.
Siblings Ashton and Cameron Lord continue to lead their respective squads. They shared the spotlight on Sept. 19 when they won individual titles at the Douglas County Championships and they’ll likely share it again Saturday with individual region champion trophies to add to the Lord Family mantel.
Ashton Lord, a senior, is ranked fourth in Class AAA girls with her personal best 5K-time of 19:08, while Cameron Lord, a sophomore, is ranked 10th in Class AAA boys with a top time of 16:17.55.
Callaway’s Madisyn Norris has the second best 5K-time among Region 4-AAA girls at 20:22.10. Central-Carroll’s Ellie Ligon (20:39.33) is the only other region competitor to break 21 minutes on the girls’ side.
Darby Demarest, who just finished leading the Chapel Hill softball team to a fifth-place finish at state as the Lady Panthers’ ace pitcher, has set PR's in her last two races to solidify her spot as the No. 2 runner for Chapel Hill’s girls.
“She’s just a great, unique kid. She can do just about anything she puts her mind to,” Williams said of Demarest, a sophomore who was getting interest from Shorter University’s track program last year before the college coach realized Demarest was only 14 at the time.
Hope Kimberly, whose best 5K-time is right there with Demarest’s, is the Lady Panthers’ No. 3 runner. Ciera West and Avery Rains round out the top five, with Kaneisha Mixon and Eyonnti Edwards also in the mix.
On the boys’ side, Paul McCloud has been a solid No. 2 behind Cameron Lord all year. McCloud has the only other sub-17 minute time in the region, with a 16:54.32.
After McCloud, the boys’ lineup has changed some over the past month due to injuries.
Jamie Robinson is the Panthers’ No. 3 runner, Chase Hancock is the No. 4 runner, and Caleb Searles is at No. 5 with Trevor Price also in the running.