Prep Cross Country: Incardona leads East Rowan boys

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, August 24, 2017

By Mike London

SALISBURY — East Rowan boys cross country coach Rick Roseman has been coaching the sport 33 years, an impressive tenure that has included one knee replacement (in May) and 19 county team championships.

Championship No. 20 is a possibility for the Mustangs, who are led by senior Sean Incardona, the winner of  Thursday’s Preseason Rowan County Meet.

All the teams in the county gathered at Dan Nicholas Park for the Pre-County Meet, just to let everyone know where they stood. East and defending champion West Rowan stand very close together.  East prevailed over the Falcons, 49-51, but that’s obviously tight enough that one runner having a bad day or one runner having a great day could swing things when the official county meet rolls around on October 4.

“I do like our team,” Roseman said. “But while our guys understand the deep and rich tradition of East Rowan cross country, this group hasn’t won anything yet. You’ve got to learn how to win.”

East ruled the county every year from 2008-13, but a Carson group, led by record-setting Zachary Marchinko, ended East’s stranglehold with back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015. Last year, it was West’s turn. Coach Scott Foster’s Falcons were kings of the county for the first time in 20 years.

But West has been depleted quite a bit, not only by normal graduation, but  by defending county individual champ Andrew Burgess’ decision not to compete in cross country this year. That’s brought West back to the pack, but Foster isn’t waving a white flag. He still has three all-county runners in Thomas Waldo, Oscar Bautista and Luke Hager. All three finished in the top 10 Thursday, while teammate Matthew Ramsey finished 11th.

Incardona also won the Pre-County Meet last August, but he finished runner-up to Burgess when the runners competed for real in October. Incardona has improved. He ran 25 seconds faster yesterday  (17:18) than he did in last year’s Pre County Meet, and he ran with temperatures in the 80s and with no one pushing him.

“Sean trains hard and expects to be successful,” Roseman said. “That’s a good time he ran today for this early in the season.”

Incardona led all the way. Wire to wire.

“People tell me this is going to be my year, but I really  don’t care about my year, I want this to be our year, to be East’s year,” Incardona said. “We’ve had a few bumpy seasons, but we’re trying to rebuild that winning mentality. Every guy on the team is running as hard as he can, not for himself, but for his teammates.”

Salisbury finished fifth, but it had the individual runner-up in Keegan Dillon (18:00). He placed ninth in the Rowan championships last fall, so he’s moving up.

East’s other leader was all-county Ross Alexander. He placed third in 18:02. Alexander was fifth in last year’s Rowan championships.

Other scorers for East were Chase Whitley (9th), Adam Whitley (15th) and  Jake Earnhardt (21st).

West’s scorers were Waldo (4th), Bautista (7th), Hager (10th), Ramsay (11th) and Luke Harrison (19th).

Zac Barbee placed sixth and led Carson to third place.

Noah Julian, a youngster with strong running genes (his parents are Scott Julian and Rebekah Frick), led South Rowan with a fifth-place finish. Frick ran 19:18.8, still a record for Rowan girls, to win the 3A state championship at Charlotte’s McAlpine Greenway in 1992.

Team scores: East 49, West 51, Carson 76, South 78, Salisbury 91, North Rowan, no score.

Top 10: 1. Sean Incardona (ER) 17:19. 2. Keegan Dillon (SHS)18:00. 3. Ross Alexande (ER) 18:02. 4. Thomas Waldo (WR) 18:05. 5. Noah Julian (SR) 18:09. 6. Zac Barbee (C) 18:24, 7. Oscar Bautista (WR) 18:33, 8. Mitchell Juchno (SR) 18:47, 9. Chase Whitley (ER) 18:48, 10. Luke Hager (WR) 19:04.