Saturday, October 7, 2023
Cary, NC– The Belen Jesuit (Miami, FL) boys overwhelmed the field and Tatnall (Wilmington, DE) girls “upset” Cardinal Gibbons(Raleigh, NC) and Cuthbertson(Waxhaw, NC) to win the team titles in the Boys and Girls Race of Championships Saturday morning at WakeMed Soccer Park course. Individually, senior Noah Valyo (Athens Drive, Raleigh, NC) and junior Abby Faith Cheeseman (The Webb School, Bell Buckle, TN) claimed the individual titles on an overcast day with mild temperatures.
Belen caught the late flight Thursday evening and touched down at Raleigh-Durham Airport Friday morning at 2:00am Friday morning. After a run on the course mid afternoon, they rested and visited some area colleges Friday afternoon before enjoying a pre-race dinner at Carrabas.
Saturday, they arrived at the course an hour before their race, a routine ritual they do for each race, for their pre race warm-up ready to face #2 DyeStat SE Region’s McCallie(Chattanooga, TN) and #4 DyeStat SE Region Calvert Hall College(Towson, MD) and a host of other teams looking to compete on the super fast course.
The race’s downhill start propelled the leaders to a quick 2:07 for the first 800m and by 2k split, Marist (Atlanta, GA) junior Tommy Latham led the tightly bunched pack of 17 runners in 5:52.4 for the first loop at the base of the longest hill on the course. On the second loop, Belen’s sensational freshman, Marcelo Mantecon and senior teammate and University of Florida commit, Joshua Ruiz injected some pace through the two downhills on the backside of the course to no avail. It was a valiant attempt, but Noah Valyo(Athen’s Drive, Raleigh, NC), an NC State commit, Jake Leibert(Wando, Mount Pleasant, SC), a University of Tennessee commit who owns a 8:47.47 personal best in the 2 mile, and Luke Liming(Cary, NC), a UNC commit with a 8:59.20 two mile personal best and Latham were not fazed as they gathered for the final run up to the finish.
Valyo got the upper hand and was able to gap the others with a strong surge at the base of the hill. Latham closed, but with a final surge from Valyo, a 1:53.69 800m runner, Valyo sealed the victory as he celebrated hands raised over the final few meters to finish in 14:42.6, a cross country personal best and the sixth fastest time in course history. Latham followed with a cross country personal best of 14:44.7. Mantecon finished third in a personal best of 14:48.0 to edge Liebert who finished in 14:48.8. In…