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Eye on POY: North Carolina boys cross country

The cross country season may have concluded, but the search for Gatorade State Boys Cross Country Runners of the Year is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated. These state meet winners made a case in their respective classifications, but did they do enough on and off the course this past season to capture the prestigious statewide honor?

Mark Blackmon

Senior, West Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)

2011 Team postseason standing: DNQ (NCHSAA Class 4A)

2011 State meet finish (Place—time): 1st—15:28

2011 Foot Locker regional (Place—time): 9th—15:01

Steven Phillips

Senior, Cardinal Gibbons (Raleigh, N.C.)

2011 Team postseason standing: 1st (NCHSAA Class 3A)

2011 State meet finish (Place—time): 1st—15:49

2011 Nike Cross Nationals regional (Place—time): 21st—15:48.50

A.J. Tucker

Junior, Cedar Ridge (Hillsborough, N.C.)

2011 Team postseason standing: 3rd (NCHSAA Class 2A)

2011 State meet finish (Place—time): 1st—16:20

2011 Foot Locker regional (Place—time): 106th—16:13

Stephen Mulherin

Senior, North Carolina School of Science & Math (Durham, N.C.)

2011 Team postseason standing: 1st (NCHSAA Class 1A)

2011 State meet finish (Place—time): 1st—15:52

2011 Foot Locker regional (Place—time): 94th—16:07

Thomas Graham

Senior, Cary Academy (Cary, N.C.)

2011 Team postseason standing: 2nd (NCISAA Class 3A)

2011 State meet finish (Place—time): 1st—15:09.10

2011 Foot Locker regional (Place—time): 5th—14:52

2011 Foot Locker nationals (Place—time): 9th—15:24.4

Trevor Sleight

Junior, Carolina Day School (Asheville, N.C.)

2011 Team postseason standing: 8th (NCISAA Class 2A)

2011 State meet finish (Place—time): 1st—15:22.74

2011 Foot Locker regional (Place—time): 25th—15:25

Connor Jones

Sophomore, Wayne Christian (Goldsboro, N.C.)

2011 Team postseason standing: 2nd (NCISAA Class 1A)

2011 State meet finish (Place—time): 1st—17:17.48

Winning the state meet isn't a prerequisite for Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year, so here are some more of many other harriers whose performances this past season vaulted them into the conversation during this 2011 campaign.

Bakri Abushouk: Junior, Cary (N.C.)

Jonathan Bivens: Senior, Weddington (Matthews, N.C.)

Craig Engels: Senior, Ronald W. Reagan (Pfafftown, N.C.)

Ben Fiedler: Junior, Asheville School (Asheville, N.C.)

George Oliver: Senior, Mount Tabor (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

Jacob Sears: Senior, Panther Creek (Cary, N.C.)

Clayton Wilson: Junior, Greensboro Day School (Greensboro, N.C.)

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Runner of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.