Faced with a major rebuilding task, especially on the girls side, made traditional Class 3A cross country power Chapin something of an unknown quantity entering the 2009 season.
The Eagles, however, found themselves in familiar territory in the late stages of the season. Chapin swept honors at the Region 4-3A championship meet and ended up in the Top 10 again in both divisions at the season-ending state championship gathering last weekend at Sandhills Research Park.
“It was a real satisfying season, considering the level of inexperience we had on both teams at the start of the season,” said long-time Eagles coach Jack LeGrand, who has been running the show since 1981.
“Sure, tradition plays a part because kids know what is expected if they want to be part of the program. But it really comes down to hard work and dedication, and these kids had it.”
Chapin’s boys and girls team have occupied spots in the Top 10 at state every year since the mid-1980s – a remarkable run of consistency.
This time, the Eagles placed fifth in the boys division, sixth in the girls.
Sophomore Heath Loricik and junior Carson Banes were the solo stars, earning all-state recognition for finishing 11th and 13th respectively. Lorick broke the 17-minute barrier for the first time, establishing a new personal record while clocking in at 16:48.95.
Morick and Barnes became the 17th and 18th Chapin runners to earn all-state status.
Juniors Hunter McGahee (31st) and Garrett Tidsworth (81st) and senior Jay Wilkins (82nd) were the other scoring boys.
Wilkins was the only senior in the seven-man state starting lineup, so the Chapin boys will not be facing a lack of experience heading into next season.
The Eagles girls were not racked in the Top 10 at the start of the season, but ended up No. 8 in 3A with a solid showing at state.
Sophomore Lannon McCoy came close to rating all-state status, but fell a bit shot and finished 18th with the third fastest time of her career (20:00.51).
Freshman Lauren Steedly (38th), senior Julia VonVollenhoven (48th) and sophomores Hayley McCoy (62nd) and Ashley Gibson (74th) accounted for the rest of Chapin’s team points.