2018 GAXC Festival and HBCU Challenge: Wet… but fast
More than 3,000 athletes who contested the 2018 Great American XC Festival and Cedric Walker HBCU Challenge last month were greeted on race day by light-to-moderate rain that lasted on and off all day long. But that turned out to be a good thing, when it came to providing faster racing conditions.
The scorching heat from the previous day was gone and, with the rain accompanied by little or no wind, some of the fastest times in meet history were posted at WakeMed Soccer Park. Sixty-eight boys ran 16:00 or faster during the day’s races, while 49 girls broke 19:00.
- Boys Nike Race of Champions: US#1 Loudoun Valley HS (VA) defended its title, despite missing potential top runner Sam Affolder due to injury. The Vikings scored 64 points, ahead of The Bolles School (FL) at 108 and Bishop Hendricken (RI) at 123. Carter Cheeseman (Fort Worth Christian, TX) outkicked Camren Fischer (Fayetteville, AR) for the individual title, 14:50.7 to 14:50.9.
- Girls Nike Race of Champions: Lawton Chiles HS (FL) broke the 3-year reign of Blacksburg (VA) to capture the team title with 127 points, followed by Saratoga Springs (NY) with 154 and Marietta (GA) with 189. Individually, Saratoga senior Kelsey Chmiel defended her 2017 title with a 16:43.8, the #2 time in meet history and 45 seconds ahead of Carmen Alder (Pinecrest, FL).
- HBCU Men: Morehouse College senior Trey Simons won his 3rd straight individual title with a 24:57.4, leading his team to its first team crown in the event. The Maroon Tigers scored 45 points, just ahead of 4-time defending champion North Carolina A&T State (50).
- HBCU Women: With 4-time team champ Hampton U. not returning in ’18, North Carolina A&T State rolled to its 1st title with 26 points, 57 ahead of Fayetteville State. The Aggies were led by individual champ G’Jasmyne Butler, who ran 18:52.2.
- Open Collegiate Men and Women: The Open Collegiate division was revived this year and run co-currently with the HBCU Challenge. Duke (16 points) and the Blue Devils’ Dalton Randall (25:09.7) were victorious for the men, while Florida Atlantic swept the team (17 points) and individual (Mikaela Jonsson, 18:48.3) crowns, as well.
Nor did the rain dampen the festivities that make GAXC a “Festival!” There were fun activities to keep teams and their families entertained all day long at WakeMed. In addition, Nike provided an awesome apparel tent that sold out of almost everything, as well as a special booth where athletes and fans could meet and get autographs from Nike superstar distance runner Shelby Houlihan.
The NSAF thanks its Title Sponsor – Nike – as well as its Official Sports Fuel Provider, Gatorade, for all of their support. We were also glad to have our partner ElliptiGO on hand for GAXC for the first time, along with our new partners from Camp Gladiator! We’re very thankful for all of the other generous supporters for whom our races have been named: The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, the Town of Cary, Primo Water, Roll Recovery and the Bone and Joint Surgery Clinic.