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Prep Cross Country: Carson perfect at Pre-Rowan County Meet

By Mike London

mike.london@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The bridge at Dan Nicholas Park is the landmark that represents the closing leg of cross country races, and usually the cry from spectators at the first glimpse of a colorful uniform is “Here they come!”
On Tuesday, however, it was “Here he comes!”
Carson’s Zachary Marchinko was a solitary figure in dark blue, a red-headed running machine with a steady, even stride. There was no one else in sight.
Marchinko easily won the individual championship at the Pre-Rowan County Meet in 16:23, but he was more concerned with what transpired after he crossed the finish line.
The next four runners were his teammates — Grant Doby (17:15), Garrett Ingold, Dylan Koontz and Nick Cox — all clocked in the 17s. Carson’s 1-2-3-4-5 finish meant a perfect 15, the cross country equivalent of bowling’s 300 or 27 up-27 down in a baseball game.
“We perfect-scored,” Marchinko said. “I broke away from the pack trying to run a good time, but I was more concerned with the team doing well than winning individually. This shows how hard we’ve worked and how hard we’ve trained, but we’ve got to stay hungry.”
Marchinko looked hungry. He stayed at the finish line, cheering on each Carson runner as he finished — even the jayvee guys.
This was the pre-county meet, not the official county meet, but Carson could find perfection again when the teams return to Dan Nicholas Park next month. The last time a team turned in a perfect 15 in the Rowan County Meet was East Rowan in 1991.
“We were outstanding as a team today,” Doby said. “We’re brothers running for each other and we’re capable of having guys with sub-17s. We’ve got big dreams this year.”
There was little doubt Marchinko would win Tuesday and zero doubt the Cougars would win.
“This was a good day for our program because it’s important to us to do well in the county,” said coach Robert Marchinko, Zachary’s father. “We expected to run well today and we did.”
Carson finally wrestled Rowan cross country supremacy away from an East Rowan dynasty last fall, and now the big question is how far can the Cougars go at the state level. They are ranked fourth in 3A.
Things will get serious right away for Carson on Saturday when the Cougars compete in the Providence Invitational in Charlotte. The state’s elite squads will be there, along with powers from out of state.
“It’s a stacked meet that will push us and challenge us,” Coach Marchinko said. “We’ve got a lot of work left to do to accomplish our goals.”
Led by Sean Incardona (7th) and Nikolas Pillsbury (8th), East placed second with 53 points. West Rowan was third with 63. West’s Andrew Burgess placed sixth to spark the Falcons, while Cameron Butler was 10th. Alex Yang (19th) was the top runner for fourth-place Salisbury. North Rowan edged South Rowan for fifth on a tiebreaker.
See Scoreboard on page 2B for all results.

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