The Region B champions, Central, survived their biggest test at the regional meet, where their toughest challengers for the state crown were present. They passed the test with flying colors by winning with a healthy 20 point margin over runner-up Clarke County. Central was led by All-Region performers Adrianna Mondragon (6th, 21:32), Katee Knupp (7th, 21:39), and Bethany Powell (8th, 21:40) with Rachel Fitzsimmons (16th, 22:07) and Christina Eckard (24th, 22:31) rounding out their top five. Mondragon, Knupp, and Powell all stand excellent shots at earning All-State honors individually on Saturday as Knupp and Powell earned All-State honors last year with 8th and 11th place finishes respectively. If Fitzsimmons and Ecard are able to close the gap even more on their front trio, Central will be untouchable.
Region B runner-up Clarke County has plenty of depth to make them a definite top three contending team as well as a threat to Central. Elizabeth Mumaw (10th, 21:46) and Keely McCall (14th, 21:49) were All-Region performers for Clarke, while Audrey Lawrence (17th, 22:07), Jennifer Griffith (19th, 22:13), Anna Lawrence (22nd, 22:20), and Elizabeth Dickey (27th, 22:55) provide extra depth for Clarke County to make them a very formidable squad to contend with.
The Floyd County girls, regional champions out of Region C, looked impressive in their regional win. Winning by over a 50 point margin, Floyd put their entire top five in the top 11 positions with Kara Rogers (7th, 20:25), Stephanie Link (8th, 20:31), Hannah Traynham (9th, 20:38), Mira Walker (10th, 20:41), and Morgan Weeks (12th, 20:50). Given that the Region C regional course is pretty quick and somewhat misleading at times compared to the state meet course, the Floyd County girls' team is legit and could possible cause defending champs Central a few problems on Saturday.
George Mason and Madison County, state meet qualifiers out of Region B, also figure to be in contention for a top three finish in the state race.
Their truly is no proven favorite for the individual title as most of the top runners in Group A are spread out in various parts of the state and Saturday will be their first race encounter with one another.
Gate City freshmen Ashton Bishop is currently ranked #1 in Group A as she has posted some quick times out in the southwestern part of the state. The Region D champion, Bishop has a season three mile best of 18:42. The only negative going against Bishop's times is the fact she has not raced against any of the other top Group A runners in these races to compare her to and also the validatity of the course distance also comes into question with courses that other top runners rarely have raced on.
The validity of Region C champion Kelly Clark's times are quite legit and accurate as shown in her regional win where she broke the Region C course record with her winning time of 18:54. Her success and times this season have closely parrelled those of last year's Region C champion and Group A state champion, Anna Carpenter of Giles. Clark will find out on Saturday, if she achieve the same feat in which Carpenter successfully achieved last fall, a state title.
Region B's top harriers of the season, regional champion Chelsea Decker of Riverheads and regional runner-up Nina Pfieffer of Strasburg have been battling it out with one another all season and will shift their battleground to Great Meadows on Saturday. Decker (20:29) got the best of Pfieffer (20:34) at regionals, but Pfieffer has performed well at the state level before as shown with her third place finish last fall as a freshmen. The two rivals could possibly pull off a one-two finish for Region B on Saturday. It remains to be seen who will pull ahead of the other though.
Region A champion Shylan Bumbrey of James Monroe is the darkhorse in the field. Known primarily for her track accomplishments as a state champion in the 400 and 800 meter races last spring, the junior Bumbrey splits cross country part-time with basketball in the fall. With the lack of training time, Bumbrey is stuck at a disadvantage, but few runners in Saturday's race have the talent and capability Bumbrey has. Bumbrey will try to ride that talent to a state title on Saturday or at least an improvement upon her fifth place finish at last year's state meet.