Noah Dolhare imagined what it would be like to run for the Providence Day cross-country team long before he ever put on a Charger uniform.
When Dolhare was in middle school, he remembers watching former Providence Day state champions like Ben Huffman, Nick Linder (both at Harvard) and Jack Paddison -- and he wanted to accomplish the same things.
"Watching guys like Ben, Nick and Jack really meant a lot to me to see the rich tradition that Providence Day (cross country/track) has had over the years," Dolhare said. "I remember watching Ben (Huffman) run a 15:48 (5K) in a regular weekday meet and I was like I want to do things that like that. I wanted to be a part of that tradition."
“…Then, when I got to Providence Day as a freshman, Nick and Jack were great mentors, and taught me a lot. They were a huge part of my development as a runner, both mentally and physically."
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Dolhare has since morphed from a 5-foot-4, 110-pound, nervous freshman into a 5-foot-11, 140-pound confident Providence Day junior, who believes he can win a given race every time he toes the line.
Dolhare had a breakout sophomore season, first in cross country where he won the CISAA conference title before finishing thi3\rd at the NCISAA 3A meet. Then, this past spring he won his first individual state championship in the 3,200-meter run (outdoors).
"Winning the 3,200 (state championship) was a big deal for me because I not only won a state championship, but also beat a guy I really looked up to (Cary Academy’s) Coleman Mitchell," said Dolhare, who is now getting Division I interest. "I used to get super nervous before a big race, now I genuinely love competing. I look forward to the biggest races."
Providence Day cross country coach Ben Hovis, beginning his 15th season, says Dolhare has made big strides.
"Noah has really grown up both physically and mentally in the last year," said Hovis, noting Dolhare owns most of the Providence Day class record from the 1,600-meter run and up. "Noah has always had the talent to be a great runner. But it’s not all about talent. But he knows what it takes now and we are all excited to see what he can accomplish this season and beyond."
Name: Noah Dolhare
School/Class: Providence Day junior
Sport: Boys’ Cross Country
2015 Cross Country Stats: Ran a personal-best 16:02.50 to finish third at states, also CISAA conference champion.
Why Him?: Dolhare had a breakout sophomore season on the course, proving he can contend in the biggest events, winning the CISAA conference title, finishing third at states. He also won his first individual state title last spring (3200-meter outdoors), had a strong summer of training and looks to carry all that momentum into the fall.
Charlotte Observer Boys’ Cross Country Runners to Watch
Haywood Ferguson, South Mecklenburg, Jr.: Sabres’ standout won the SoMeck8 conference and 4A West Regional title, now wants to contend at the 4A state meet.
Hayden Blalock, Providence, Sr.: Like Ferguson, Blalock proved he could contend at the SoMeck8 conference (fourth-place finish) and 4A West Regional (fifth-place finish), but is now looking for himself and his team to contend at states.
Austin Hilburn, North Lincoln, Sr.: North Piedmont conference runner-up finished sixth at Midwest Regional, seventh at states, and is ready to lead the Knights’ team that has proven to be one of the top 3A programs in North Carolina.
Kyle Hinson, Weddington, Sr.: Warriors’ senior must step up as the defending 3A state champions lost most of their lineup to graduation. Hinson has the talent to do after finishing fourth at the Southern Carolinas’ conference, 10th at 3A Midwest Regionals and 25th at states last fall.
Ben Clark, Clover, Sr.: Defending Region III AAAA champion, also finished sixth at AAAA Upper State championships, 19th at states.
Charlotte Observer Boys’ Cross Country Teams to Watch
Providence: The Panthers won both the SoMeck8 conference and 4A West Regional titles last year and with top runners in Blalock and Andrew Kiss back could contend at the 4A state championships.
Myers Park: The defending Southwestern 4A conference champions and 4A West Regional runners-up have the talent to contend at states with junior Marshall Williamson (SW4A champion) leading the charge.
Providence Day: The Chargers finished third in the state last year after winning the previous five NCISAA 3A state titles. This season, Coach Ben Hovis and company look to get back on top.
Weddington: The defending 3A state champions must replace the core of their team (losing eight seniors), but Coach Rick Spencer had proven the Warriors’ tradition never graduates.
Woodlawn School: Defending NCISAA 1A state champions look to win it all again with individual (NCISAA 1A) state champion, Quinn Schneider leading the way.