After taking a narrow early season defeat to AA squad Potomac Falls at the Frank Keyser Invite earlier in the season, the Thomas Jefferson boys will be looking to even the score with a win at the Oatlands Invitational. Thomas Jefferson competed without their top runner Brian Landry against Potomac Falls, and showed their true potential with Landry in the lineup at Knights Crossing two weeks ago with a convincing win and nearly five under 17 minutes for 5K. Landry will also find himself in the same race this Saturday with two fellow contenders for the Northern Region title in Thomas Edison's Leoule Degfae and T.C. Williams' Bradshaw Kenimer. Kenimer (pictured above by Ted Plunkett) is looking to defend his Oatlands title from a year ago and re-assert himself as the Northern Region title favorite.
Potomac Falls may not even be the team which Thomas Jefferson needs to be concerned with on Saturday. Coach Mike Schuster's Osbourn Park boys are ranked #10 in Virginia behind the #5 ranked TJ squad. Osbourn Park had a solid season opener at Great Meadow Invite behind a field filled with NTN ranked squads. With the Mountain View boys sending their top seven runners to Maymont to gauge their NTN chances, Osbourn Park has a great opportunity to improve their chances for the triple crown. Combined team scoring from the Great Meadow, Oatlands, and Octoberfest Invite determine a triple crown team champion. This is the first year of the triple crown as Oatlands meet director Derek Farrey is the brainchild behind the "race" over three races.
Thomas Jefferson's depth may be too much for any team to challenge as they put 10 under 18 minutes at Knights Crossing as well, while Osbourn Park had a fifth runner problem at Great Meadow despite putting three well under 17 minutes including a 16:25 5K performance by AAA #13 ranked Tyler Simmons.
Other teams expected to finish high are Northern Region teams James Robinson and W.T. Woodson. Woodson defeated Robinson in the season's beginning at Monroe Parker, while Robinson looked a lot stronger at William & Mary with a respectable third place showing. Potomac Falls and Thomas Edison should also contend for top five finishes.
Kenimer returns as the race champion from the 2006 Oatlands Invite as he won by five seconds last September with a final time of 16:13. Kenimer opened his season off strong at Monroe Parker Invite with a win and posted one of the fastest splits of the day at the Brentsville Relays to emerge as an early front runner for the Northern Region title. However, Kenimer was defeated last Saturday at the William & Mary Invite by another Northern Region runner in Leoule Degfae who took third place honors in the "A" race ahead of Kenimer with a time that would convert just under 16 minutes for 5K on the 3.05 mile course in Williamsburg.
Landry's biggest competition in recent years has been his health as he has struggled to stay injury free, but seems to be ready to enjoy a fall with 100% health and opened up at Knights Crossing with a 16:04 5K for fourth place in the invite. A win over Kenimer and Degfae would give Landry great confidence in going after his first Northern Region title. All three runners are ranked in the top 15 in Virginia with Degfae at #12, Kenimer at #14, and Landry at #15.
Next group of individuals appears to include Walt Whitman of Maryland's Andrew Palmer, Harrisonburg's Bryant Clopper, and Potomac Falls' Josh Hardin. Clopper was only a few seconds behind Landry at Knights Crossing at 16:09 and was respectable distance behind Degfae and Kenimer at William & Mary. Hardin defeated all of TJ's runners except for an absent Landry at the Frank Keyser Invite, while finishing as a runner-up at the Judges Classic two weeks ago. Palmer won the Nike Outdoor Nationals freshmen mile title this past spring.