The girls' race was the fastest race ever conducted at Hardy National as three runners dipped well under the old course record set by 2002 Foot Locker finalist and All-American Cara Kiernan at the MileStat.com Invitational with Scott, Northside junior Catherine White (2nd, 17:08.91), and Albemarle (3rd, 17:35.27). That mention alone is pretty incredible considering that Kiernan ran her time late in the season in mid November, while these runners are just getting their season underway in November.
White, last year's Group AA State Champion, looks like nothing will stand in her way to a second state title. However, Anna Chase of Martinsville, one of Group AA's best runners as an underclassmen in 2002 and 2003, returns back to the states for her senior year after spending a year living in Germany with her mother as she has dual citizenship in both countries.
While Scott's and White's times were shockingly impressive, Albemarle junior Rachel Rose's third place finishing time of 17:35.27 was a time that could be seen as an out of this world suprise considering the times Rose had been previously known to run. In fact, Rose's time was over a full two minutes faster than her time on the same course at the same meet last fall where she posted a time of 19:44.14. Nonetheless, Rose has to draw immediate consideration as a contender for the Group AAA state crown this season with last year's champion Melissa Dewey graduated and the next top returnee in 2004 state runner-up Aurora Scott now competing in the private school ranks.
There was no suprise in the team outcome as Group AA's Western Albemarle dominated the meet with a final team score of 46 points, which put them far ahead of second place Deep Run (88 pts). The Lady Warriors had some key losses from last year's state championship squad including graduated seniors Tasmin Fanning and Kelsey Stafford. This year will also be the first year without head coach Carin Ward, who had been an important part of the Western girls' state championship dynasty the last few years as she relocated to the sunny shores of California. Despite the losses, the Lady Warriors kept on trucking strong at Fork Union on Saturday as senior Samantha Stafford led the charge with a fourth place finishing time of 18:38.29. The remaining Western Albemarle top five nearly fit in the top 15 individual spots as Madeline Gomez (10th, 19:45.78), Valerie Wilder (11th, 19:47.74), Beth Mounsey (15th, 20:22.20), and Carrie Ellwood (16th, 20:25.57) all had solid runs.
Only few years old, the Deep Run girls continue to improve as a team each year and on track to be a squad that could eventually qualify for states out of the Central Region. The Deep Run girls were led at Fork Union by a seventh place effort from Erin Bragg in a time of 19:25.45.
St. Catherine's senior Katie Doswell continues to be in her funk that she's been in since a stellar indoor track season last winter that saw her break onto the national scene with some outstanding middle distance performances. Doswell finished eighth at Fork Union in a time of 19:28.86. Doswell had won the race as a freshmen in 2002 and had taken runner-up honors in both 2003 and 2004.
The boys' race saw a lot closer competition than girls' which had blowout victories from Aurora Scott and the Western Albemarle girls. Individual winner of the boys' race was North Stafford senior Alec Meyer (15:34.61) as he crossed the line less than two seconds ahead of Richard "Skeeter" Morris of Nottoway (15:36.10). The race was a great run from Morris, who comes from an anything but a hotbed for distance running in the small town of Crewe, Virginia. Morris could very well be one of Group AA's best cross country runners this fall.
Meyer was the top finisher for the North Stafford squad boys, who went on to claim the team title with a total score of 55 points. The Wolverines were very solid through three with Meyer, senior Patrick Quinn (4th, 15:47), and junior Lucas Hatcher (8th, 16:09.30) tuning in fine performances. Rounding out the squad's scoring five were Kyle Garcia (24th, 16:49.80) and Steven Hogdell (26th, 16:50.96).
The Western Albemarle boys look to possibly be a squad on the trek to return to their glory days of state titles or at least state meet berths with this year's group as they took runner-up honors to North Stafford by nine points with a 64 point team total. Top finisher for the Warriors was Will Massie in a 15:49.99 clocking for fifth place. Two other team members earned top 15 finishers as the Satterwhite brothers, Kyle (12th, 16:15.35) and Matt (15th, 16:24.65) had strong individual runs. Chris Post (17th, 16:34.84) finished just outside of the top 15 for Western and James Howard-Smith ran number five for Coach Bain's squad in a time of 16:50.23 for 25th place.
In remembrance of Kelly Watt, who lost his life last month after a heat stroke on a run, Fork Union coach and meet director Winston Brown honored last year's Fork Union Invitational boys' race champion by renaming the varsity colonial divisions of this year's race the Kelly Watt race divisions.