All photos by Joseph Bond
Chantilly's Sean McGorty edges out MileSplit US #3 Jacob Thomson for 14:43.6 course record win at Great American!
Chantilly boys place fourth behind three US top 10 ranked squads!
Skyline's Thomas Madden joins McGorty under 15 in fourth place at 14:59!
Three VA girls under 18 minutes at WakeMed Soccer Park!
Katie Fortner (Cave Spring) - 4th, 17:41
Allie Klimkiewicz (Oakton) - 6th, 17:51
Hannah Rose (Wilson Memorial) - 9th, 17:59
Meet Summary: At the 2012 Great American Cross Country Festival, Sean McGorty (pictured right by Ed Lull) and the Chantilly boys made a statement to the nation. The returning Foot Locker All-American in McGorty dueled it out for 5000 meters with MileSplit US #3 ranked Jacob Thomson of Kentucky, who had been coming off a big 12 second win two weeks ago against MileSplit US #5 ranked Jacob Burcham of West Virginia at the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational. It took all 3.1 miles to separate the two on Saturday at Cary, North Carolina as they battled each other to the finish line once they crested the final hill. The 4:11 miler McGorty was able to outkick the 4:12 miler Thomson by a mere 3 tenths of a second with a new course and meet record time of 14:43.6 compared to Thomson timed at 14:43.8. McGorty's stock should certainly rise nationally after his time and victory against Thomson at Great American.
Not to be overlooked with McGorty's victory and time was the strong bounce back race for fellow 2011 Foot Locker finalist Thomas Madden of Skyline. After being dropped by McGorty before the mile mark last week at Oatlands and defeated by Thomas Edison's Louis Colson for second place, Madden was with McGorty for much of the race this week until McGorty and Thomson took off with 600 meters to go from the lead pack. Madden finished strong himself for fourth place and his second sub 15 minute time of his career behind only his 14:56 performance at Foot Locker South last December, which earned him an all expenses paid trip to San Diego. The returning Group AA state cross country champion looked every bit like a returning Foot Locker finalist as well on Saturday in Cary.
McGorty was not the only Chantilly runner to roll out a fast time on an unseasonably cooler last weekend of September thanks to rain and overcast clouds which stayed in the Mid-Atlantic on Saturday. The Chantilly boys, ranked #2 in Virginia and #24 in the United States by MileSplit, raced against not only the other top ranked squads in Virginia between MileSplit US #18 Blacksburg and VA #3 Blacksburg, but five other teams ranked among the top 25 nationally including three of the top 8 in US #1 Christian Brothers Academy of New Jersey, US #7 St. Xavier of Kentucky, and US #8 Cardinal O'Hara of Pennsylvania. CBA proved itself the class of the field as US #1 with a low team score of 60 points, but Chantilly was not far behind two US top 10 teams in St. Xavier (2nd, 148 pts) and Cardinal O'Hara (3rd, 161 pts) with their fourth place team score of 179 points. Chantilly appears to be the second best team in the Southeast Region and would figure to have a strong shot at qualifying as one of the two automatic qualifiers for Nike Cross Nationals if they went that route in the post-season, but it has already been decided the team will be going to Foot Locker South instead with Sean McGorty looking to become a three-time Foot Locker Nationals finalist and improve upon his 9th place finish in San Diego from a year ago.
Chantilly's #2 runner Logan Miller looks to be back at his top form if not fitter than a year ago when he became a state champion indoors at 1600 meters. Both Miller and teammate Faris Sakallah came through in a big way for Chantilly coach Matt Gilchrist on Saturday with their individual races as the Chargers nearly put 3 runners inside a very tough top 25 to crack into with a cutoff time of 15:32. Miller was the third fastest Virginian in the meet behind only returning Foot Locker finalists McGorty and Madden with his 12th place effort of 15:23.6. Meanwhile, only Ian Macleod (17th, 15:29) of Stafford finished in between Miller and Sakallah (26th, 15:33) as Chantilly's #2 and #3 runners ran better than most teams #1 runners including Blacksburg's Nick Link (31st, 15:38) and Midlothian's Andrew Gorsuch (58th, 15:59). Neither Blacksburg (7th, 295 pts) nor Midlothian (13th, 390 pts) seemed to race as well in Cary as they did two weeks ago at the adidas Challenge when the two Virginia schools went 1-2 respectively in the team standings. Midlothian was unable to present a front runner with a low score card to help them break inside the top 10, while Blacksburg's top five spread was 18 seconds wide than it was two weeks ago on the same course as it went from 30 to 44 seconds and their pack was unable to move up their times with better competition.
In the Race of Champions for girls, four Virginia individuals put themselves up towards the front of the field and three of them were able to land inside the top 10 and under 18 minutes for 5K before the start of the month of October. Cave Spring junior Katie Fortner seems to enjoy racing in Cary as she had a great race at Great American last year to finish as a runner-up in a PR time of 17:35 as well as give Cosby's Megan Moye a rare in-state defeat at the time. The VA #8 ranked Fortner followed up that performance by defeating three runners ranked ahead of her in the state of Virginia at this year's Great American with a fourth place performance of 17:41. Trailing in behind her from Virginia were VA #5 Allie Klimkiewicz of Oakton (6th, 17:51), VA #7 Hannah Rose of Wilson Memorial (9th, 17:52), and VA #4 Carolyn Bethel of Hidden Valley (11th, 18:03). Interesting for Bethel to actually beat her PR time from NXN Southeast last fall on the same course by one second which qualified her individually for Nike Cross Nationals, yet finish 11th and be the fourth fastest Virginian in the race. Rose is showing the potential to join a small group of great small school Group A runners to have qualified for cross country nationals (Foot Locker) such as Trish Nervo and most recently Megan Marsico of Glenvar with performances like her race at Great American.
Klimkiewicz did her part leading the state's top ranked program Oakton at Great American against a field of some of the Southeast Region and nation's top programs. Coming into this weekend recently ranked #17 in the United States by MileSplit US, Oakton ended up finishing 6th in the Race of Champions with a team score of 250 points and team average of 19:07 which will certainly drop them nationally after finishing behind two nationally unranked squads in Barrington (4th, 177 pts) of Rhode Island and Morgantown (5th, 248 pts) of West Virginia, while traditional Southeast Region powerhouse but lower US #20 ranked Tatnall (3rd, 142 pts) of Delaware also finished ahead of them this weekend. Oakton had too much of a gap between Klimkiewicz and their second finisher Hailey Dougherty (47th, 19:09) or would have needed their remaining top five to come in shortly after Dougherty, which did not happen either as their final scorer came in at 19:53. However, it is not to be overlooked that Oakton is a young team with more experience to be gained as only one senior is found in their varsity lineup currently and they have time to emerge as a force nationally. Oakton was the best and highest finishing team from Virginia at Great American, so they still have to be considered one of the state's best teams and Group AAA favorites alongside regional rivals Lake Braddock.
In the seeded invitational boys' race, the top three individual finishers were all from the state of Virginia between Albemarle's Ryan Thomas (1st, 15:34), Forest Park's Andrew Gaiser (2nd, 15:43), and Christiansburg's Zach Chase (3rd, 15:55). They were PR runs for all three runners across the board and makes one wonder how much faster each could have gone, especially race winner Thomas if in the deeper Race of Champions with plenty of packs to pull them along to swift times. Nonetheless, Thomas helped his Albemarle boys (168 pts) to a runner-up finish in the seeded invite division behind another school from Virginia in Stone Bridge (145 pts), who are establishing themselves as a team to be recognized and considered a serious contender to make it out of the Northern Region and onto the state meet this fall. The VA #14 ranked Stone Bridge boys had four runners among the top 18 places between Brady Guertin (7th, 16:02), Robert Willis (11th, 16:08), Tyler Brodie (13th, 16:13), and Austin Lushinski (18th, 16:18) in a tight 18 second spread for their first four. Albemarle in finishing second was able to knock off their Northwest Region foes and VA #13 ranked Forest Park, who fell back to 6th place in the team standings.
In the seeded invitational girls' race, former All-State cross country runner Allison Huschke of Albemarle was a runner-up in a time of 18:47 with two other Virginia girls under 19 minutes in the race in Darby McPhail of William Byrd (4th, 18:57) and Tessa Riley of Midlothian (5th, 18:57). The Midlothian girls could make a late surge on the current AAA top ranked teams with Riley's emergence and sub 19 minute run if they can return the services and get healthy their three returning 18 minute 5K runners Kara Dickerson, Marie Johnston, and Kari Johnston. Their team finished 5th without all three at Great American in the second most competitive race division with Kali Striker (23rd, 19:43) and Madison Carpenter (26th, 19:48) also running well in their absence.
The Lee-Davis junior duo of Paul Adam and Grayson Morgan went an impressive 1-2 in the red invitational race with Adam as the race champion at 16:04, while Morgan was able to hold off Cameron Greza (3rd, 16:16) from Morgantown High School in West Virginia for second place at 16:15. Annandale boys were second place as a squad in that division, while the Western Branch boys finished third in the blue invitational race as the Bruins were led by Nick Richardson's second place clocking of 16:11.
2012 Great American Results: