WILMINGTON- The high school cross-country season begins at Hugh McRae Park Thursday and two runners are the early favorites to finish among the top of their respective divisions when the fall season winds down toward the end of October when local programs return to Hugh McRae for the New Hanover County Championships.
Cape Fear Academy may not get the recognition as other schools in the area, but that doesn’t mean the Hurricanes are without their fair share of standout athletes.
Alex Nadaud has been a staple within the local running community over the last several years after first getting into the sport as a seventh grader. After trying lacrosse and looking to find his niche on the soccer pitch, he joined track and immediately turned heads with his ability after placing fourth in conference one season later.
Since then, the passion for running continued to grow as Nadaud is a three-time defending conference champion and holds the CFA cross-country record holder at 17:01.2.
Like most impressionable athletes, Nadaud was taken under the wing by an upperclassman and hopes to pass on the tradition during his senior campaign. Moving into his final season, he has his eyes set on a leading spot among competitors in New Hanover County after a fifth place finish during the county championships as a junior. Nadaud returns as one of the most accomplished runners in the field across the local landscape.
Watch his interview from earlier this week by scrolling down to the bottom of this article.
On the girls’ side, bursting onto the running scene as a first-year student-athlete last year was Laney rising sophomore Natalie Tyner. With multiple victories and a strong performance at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A meet, the reigning Mideastern Conference Player of the Year has been working hard over the last few months for a follow up performance.
“The season really begins for us in the beginning of June,” said Laney Cross-Country Coach Sam Bobbitt. “A lot of people think it begins in August, but we start during summer working on racking up a base mileage, building up endurance. Come August, we’re testing our own limits to see what we can do based off the summer and from there we try to push forward workout wise.”
Tyner, who took first place at the Mideastern Conference and New Hanover County races in 2015, helped guide Laney to a league title and placed 26th at the state meet following a third-place finish during the 4A East Regional.
“Natalie’s willingness to put in the work was something that stood out right away,” Bobbitt added. “She loves competing and competing against herself to see what she can do. That fire doesn’t always go down in races and in the classroom. She’s ready to take on the challenge again this year. Her perspective hasn’t change and she wants to do whatever’s necessary to help the team.”
The opening 3.1 mile race of the year typically serves as a pace setter for the next few months leading through the meet schedule and into the late season stretch. With high expectations moving into her sophomore year, Tyner has the mindset off an experienced runner, with aspirations of improving an already outstanding start to her high school career.
The season opening meet at Hugh McRae Park is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
— Joe Catenacci (@JoeCats19) August 24, 2016