Dave Culp will be watching the weather radar intently between now and Saturday.
His hope is that when runners hit the wooded portion of Jackson Park, the Western North Carolina Cross Country Carnival has not turned into a swim meet.
Culp is the Roberson girls coach and the meet director for Saturday’s race which is annually the largest in the area. This year’s field includes 46 schools and more than 1,300 runners from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Portions of the meet’s 5-kilometer course have been under water this summer due to heavy rain in WNC. Culp and several team parents spread between six and seven tons of gravel in the worst spots last weekend.
“This is always a good early meet, a good opportunity to see where everyone is at,” Culp said.
“I feel good about the group we have back. We lost Brooke Gordon (the three-time Citizen-Times All-WNC Runner of the Year), but everyone else is back in the top-seven. And several freshmen are showing some promise.”
Roberson is fifth in the NCRunners.com preseason rankings for 4-A and seven of the Rams’ best runners who are back are Lily Anderson, Casey Greenwalt, Anastasia Soule, Rachel Koon, Lauren Hartmann, Elena Link and Nicole Salgado.
Reynolds is also expected to make some noise this fall with the return of Anna Vess, Larissa Wood and Emma Himelein-Wachowiak. Vess won last year’s Buncombe County meet as a freshman.
Anderson, who is a junior, said she has been running about 35-40 miles a week, but is look forward to seeing where her fitness truly stands on Saturday.
“It’s going to be really interesting,” Anderson said.
“I think we’re going to have a great team, and we all get along well, so that makes it a lot of fun.”
As for the boys, defending NCHSAA 3-A champion Tanis Baldwin from East Henderson is entered in Saturday’s Carnival as is Mitchell’s Zach Boone, who won two races at the NCHSAA 1-A track meet in May. Enka senior Andrew Crowell was the 2012 Mountain Athletic Conference champ.
Saturday’s races will begin with the championship boys at 8:30 a.m. and proceed as follows — championship girls (9 a.m.), invitational boys (9:30 a.m.), invitational girls (10 a.m.), individual boys (10:40 a.m.), individual girls (11:20 a.m.), 3K boys (noon) and 3K girls (12:20 p.m.).
Admission is free for spectators.
Race fans that arrive during the meet are asked to use the back entrance to Jackson Park. It is accessible by taking exit 53 (Upward Road) off Interstate 26. After making a right off the exit ramp, take another right onto Spartanburg Highway and go 1.3 miles until making a right onto Glover Street.
This is the Carnival’s 13th year. For more information on Saturday’s meet, log onto www.robersoncc.com.