Updated: 2 days ago
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The North Carolina State women have been a powerful team for years. They have finished 4th, 8th, and most recently 13th at the three most recent NCAA XC championship meets. Sure, this is a downward trend, but the group of freshmen they have coming in (along with their returners) will be hungry to turn that around.
The Wolfpack have some powerful veterans coming coming back to the team this year such as Elly Henes, Dominique Clairmonte, and Nevada Mareno who will be able to lead the team back into the top 10 come November. But the difference from last year? They have some absurdly talented young women coming in this fall.
Kelsey Chmiel has been one of the biggest names in high school distance running for a couple years. The Saratoga Springs, NY star just ran 16:18 for runner-up in the 5k at New Balance Nationals (she was beaten by Footlocker champ Sydney Masciarelli). Chmiel has also run 4:23 for 1500 meters (which is a 4:40 mile equivalent) and 9:59 for 3200 meters. She is also the Nike Cross Nationals runner-up, possibly making her the top recruit from this year's national recruiting class (both Sydney Masciarelli and Katelyn Tuohy will still be in high school next year).
Kelsey Chmiel is a key recruit who has the ability to immediately make an impact for NC State. Much like VanderLende who is committed to Michigan, Chmiel is a one-person wrecking crew capable of injecting significant scoring potency into NC State's lineup. With her PR's, she should find herself in the Wolfpack’s top seven without a problem.
NC State followed up their huge addition of Kelsey Chmiel with another standout: Samantha Bush of Turpin, OH. Bush has run 2:10 for 800 meters, 4:47 for 1600 meters and 10:36 for 3200 meters. These times make her an incredibly versatile athlete who will be able to fill many roles for the Wolfpack. Bush only raced five times during her senior cross country season, but she never finished outside of the top four in any race. This includes a PR of 17:30 for 5000 meters. When you consider her range from 800 meters to 5k, it's easy to imagine that this will allow her to make an impact during cross country season, as well as on the track when she can drop down in distance. Speed such as hers will be wildly useful for a program is often dominated by their long distance runners.
Next up is Lulu Black. The Fishers, IN standout specializes almost exclusively in the 3200 meters, and it shows. In five outdoor races earlier this spring, she ran under 11:00 every time, highlighted by a PR of 10:39 for 5th place at the Indiana Outdoor State Championship. Her cross country 5k personal best of 17:56 (from 2016) may not stand out on its own, but when her results are examined further, her talent is immediately apparent.
Black has consistently racked up top five finishes in cross country and also finished 10th at the Indiana state meet. Lulu Black’s consistency and her strength in the 3200 should make her a very strong long distance and cross country athlete for the Wolfpack.
After these top three recruits, NC State has added two more less-developed talents (which is a good thing). The term less developed is used here because these athletes have not been exposed to as high levels of competition, but have still produced impressive results.
Taylor Cosey of Knoxville, TN comes in with PRs of 5:09 for 1600, and 11:03 for 3200. Cosey seems to get better as the distance increases, which is a very good sign heading into a collegiate program known for their distance running. Her 18:18 cross country 5k PR may not stack up as highly on a national level, but her track times back up her talent. If she adapts to the challenges cross country throws at her, she should be right up there with her fellow classmates.
Shannon Sefton of Cary, NC is in a similar situation. She has run 5:05 for 1600 meters, 11:11 for 3200 meters, and 18:19 for 5k (on the track). Sefton’s PRs are very similar to Taylor Cosey’s, so they should make great training partners and will hopefully progress to the point where they master the 6k cross country distance. Sefton finished 5th at the North Carolina State Cross Country Championship last fall, so running near the front is nothing new to her. She will undoubtedly be an asset while at NC State.
The combination of veteran talent and star recruits creates something of a perfect storm for the NC State Wolfpack. The upperclassman talent will allow their recruits to have time to develop so that once the current stars graduate, the younger athletes will be primed to step in.
NC State’s history of success at NCAA's creates a high standard for who they are bringing in, and these young women will be expected to bring their "A" game to every race this fall. With some of the best incoming freshmen in the country, NC State will have a great chance to make some noise this year. Look for them to be fighting for a top five spot this fall thanks to their great depth.