It's not often a high school produces a regional cross country champion.
Olympic has taken that a step farther, as Steven Bollinger and Kenyetta Iyevbele won 3A regional titles last week. They'll be among the favorites in the state meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at Clemmons' Tanglewood Park.
“It is rare for one school, and we're trying to definitely enjoy it,” said Olympic coach Craig Bollinger, who is Steven's father. “But there still is a race to run.”
Steven Bollinger, a senior, finished the 5-kilometer regional in 15 minutes, 37 seconds at McAlpine Park. He's won every race he's been in this season, except the first (a third-place finish in the Eye Opener meet).
“That's been a motivating factor,” Craig Bollinger said. “He's had a good season. The 3A division at the state meet will be strong. There are probably four runners in the mid-15-minute area. It will come down to whoever has the heart to finish strong.”
Iyevbele, a junior, ran 18:38 and won the regional race by 22 seconds. She has worked hard to make the transition from middle-school sprinter to high school middle-distance runner, Olympic girls' coach Christy Kunkle said.
“She has excellent form, just to watch her run is beautiful,” Kunkle said. “It looks effortless, but she runs relaxed. Kenyetta is a very hard worker.”
Iyevbele doesn't have a teammate who can push her, so she often trains with Olympic's boys, including Bollinger.
“They both have put in the time, and they're seeing the fruit of that,” Craig Bollinger said. “Both are discipline-type athletes. They'll do stuff on their own. This time of the season, it's about fine-tuning and getting your rest. They're about as strong as they're going to be.”
North Mecklenburg's Kimberly Spano, a senior, will try to win her third straight 4A championship. She has dominated competition all season, and her time of 18:40.6 in the 4A Midwest Regional won by 62 seconds. Providence's Alex Taylor won the boys' 4A West Regional in 16:08. Myers Park's Alexa Gellman (18:47) won the girls' regional.
Ardrey Kell was the boys' regional champ, followed by Myers Park, Watauga and Weddington. In the girls' race, Watauga, Myers Park (regional runner-up), Providence and Weddington are contenders.
In 3A, Marvin Ridge was a boys' regional champion behind Chris Colo, Michael Colven and David McCuiston. Indian Trail Sun Valley won the girls regional title, as Danielle Hobbs (19:00) finished second to Iyevbele. Charlotte Catholic was third in the boys' and girls' regional.
Mooresville will attempt to win its third consecutive championship, and Skyland Roberson has won the past four girls' titles. Mooresville coasted to the 3A West Regional title behind Josh Cox (second place) and Graham Sledge (fourth place).
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