The Lake Norman News area has consistently been one of the top regions in the state for cross country talent. This year was no exception.
Lake Norman Charter grabbed most of the headlines as Craig Zamiara led his girls to a 1A state championship, while the Knights' boys finished as state runners-up.
Lake Norman was also strong, with coach Kathleen Scott leading her boys' and girls' squads to I-Meck titles. The Wildcats' boys and girls both finished sixth at the 4A West Regional.
East Lincoln boys' squad also had a good year, with a 2A West Regional runner-up finish.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Davidson Day's girls' cross country team also made some noise, finishing second in the state.
Lake Norman Runner of the Year: Michael Rupinski
Rupinski has been a solid runner for most of his Lake Norman career. But this year, the Wildcat senior saved his best for last.
Rupinski was not only I-Meck runner-up to eventual state champion, West Charlotte's Mark Blackmon, but also was 13th in a loaded 4A Midwest Regional field (16:32) and 17th at the 4A state meet (16:20).
Rupinski also won the 2011 Iredell County championship race.
Lake Norman Coach of the Year: Melvin Morrison, East Lincoln
Morrison is used to leading his East Lincoln boys' cross country team to big wins in big events, including the 2009 state championships.
This year, the Mustangs had a huge challenge coming into the season after graduating two of the best runners in school history in Dylan Belles and Braether Cline.
While Morrison and his team didn't win their conference, regionals or states, they remained one of the region's best teams.
East Lincoln's boys' cross country team finished as the 2A West Regional runner-up, sixth at the 2A state meet and third in the SPC conference championships.
All-Lake Norman boys cross country team
Rupinski, Lake Norman: The senior finished strong as I-Meck runner-up, 13th at regionals, 17th at states.
Patrick Sheehan, Lake Norman: Sophomore was strong, with third-place I-Meck finish, 16th at regionals.
Tim Gruber, Cannon: Senior ran personal best time of 15:45.90 before being slowed by a leg injury.
Jonathan Wagner, Lake Norman: Another impressive Wildcat finished in fifth-place in the I-Meck.
Michael Westbay, Lake Norman Charter: Senior was exceptional as SPC runner-up, third at regionals, sixth at states (16:47).
Chris Hack, Lake Norman Charter: Senior finished 11th at states, sixth at regionals, fourth at SPC championships.
Justin Wilkes, East Lincoln: Mustangs' senior leader peaked with sixth-place finish at regionals, fourth at states (16:50).
Nate Nash, Hopewell: Titans' top runner finished seventh at I-Meck championships, 29th at regionals.
Lake Norman News Runner of the Year: Sarah Hardin, Lake Norman Charter
Hardin was impressive, finishing as the 1A state runner-up, with a time of 19:39. With her performance, she led her team to a state championship and earned all-state honors for a second consecutive year.
The junior, who won the 1A West Regional title with a time of 20:19.64, still has room to improve next year.
Lake Norman News Coach of the Year, Craig Zamiara, Lake Norman Charter
Zamiara and the Lake Norman Charter team were expecting big things coming into this season.
The Knights lived up to nearly every expectation, winning the 1A girls' state title in just their third year as an official member of the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
Zamiara led the Knights to the 1A state title after finishing as the state runners-up in 2010 and sixth in 2009.
All-Lake Norman girls' cross country team
Hardin, Lake Norman Charter: Junior was 1A state runner-up, won 1A West Regional, eighth at SPC championships.
Stephanie Zaino, Lake Norman Charter: Junior placed fifth at states, runner-up at 1A regional and sixth in SPC.
Taylor Sweet, Lake Norman: I-Meck champion finished 24th at 4A West Regionals.
Elise Devoe, Lake Norman: Sophomore was solid all year, with sixth place at I-Meck, 25th at regionals.
Nina Mastrandrea, Lake Norman: Senior finished fourth at I-Meck championships.
Allie Whitley, East Lincoln: Senior ran impressive 19:33.15 to finish fourth at SPC championships, also sixth at regionals
Melissa Zammitti, Davidson Day: Sophomore posted impressive fourth-place finish at states.
Rachel Bringewatt, Davidson Day: Another impressive sophomore finished ninth at states.