Watching South View win a conference title in boys cross country had become routine for Cape Fear’s Matthew Hanes. In his 16th year at Cape Fear High School, his 14th coaching boys cross country, Hanes was all too familiar with the Tigers’ 21-year dominance of the sport locally.
But from the earliest days of summer practice this year, Hanes told his team that this season would mark the best window of opportunity the Colts ever had of taking the trophy away from South View.
“At the end of last season, we were as close as we ever were to taking them down,’’ he said. “I said the opportunity is here for the taking if you want it bad enough.’’
Apparently, the Colts did, as they finally ended the South View victory streak and captured the Patriot Athletic Conference cross country meet on South View’s own course last month.
Building a successful cross country program at Cape Fear has been anything but easy for Hanes. His first season he had a total of nine runners, boys and girls, competing. “It’s hard to get children to run that many miles when it’s 100 degrees outside,’’ he said. “You have to tell them the truth.’’
When the Colts won every regular-season duel with South View this season, it gave Hanes confidence. But he still had doubts as South View sought to make it 22 straight titles while running on its homes course.
Hanes counted on a strong showing by his top runner, Jonathan Piland, and he got it as the veteran placed second with a time of 17:04.40.
The key piece of the championship puzzle for Cape Fear was newcomer Julius Ferguson. He placed third while Juan Alvarado ran fifth to give Cape Fear its third runner in the top five.
Other Colts in the top 20 were Collin Gaddy 10th, Alden Bostic 13th and Colton Danks 20th.
Piland said the South View course offered extra challenges in the meet.
“With the rain, it made quite a muddy experience,’’ Piland said. “Otherwise it was an excellent course. They’ve always done a good job of designing it and keeping it well maintained.’’
Cape Fear’s team strategy of sticking together and staying ahead of the South View pack worked. “Our top seven runners made all-conference,’’ Piland said. “I would say that was a pretty big accomplishment.’’
The Colts are optimistic about qualifying for the Nov. 9 state meet at Ivey M. Redmon Park in Kernersville.
“We have so many that are committed runners,’’ Piland said. “We’ve won invitational meets and meets that in previous years we never figured to place in. I think we have a great shot at states this year.’’
From L-R: Tariq Hussein, Collin Gaddy, Alden Bostic, Jonathan Piland, Caleb Knudsen, Colton Danks, Seth Thomas, Mr. Brian Edkins.
Front: Coach Matthew Hanes, Julius Ferguson, Juan Alvarado. Missing from the picture is Noah Lucas.