Photo gallery by Lee Dick from the 2002 Foot Locker South Regional meet in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The state of Virginia had its finest showing in recent memory at the Foot Locker South Regional Meet today at McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte. The state advanced two individual representatives, one on the boys\' side and one of the girls\' side with two Independent school state champions in Kippy Keino of Fork Union and Cara Kiernan of The Potomac School. Also quite a rarity as well as an amazing accomplishment for the Virginians was winning both boys and girls team titles in the seeded races to add to the great day for Virginia, which included a few more race winners and record breaking performances.
No runner in the state of Virginia has such a great family running background as Fork Union senior Kippy Keino does. Keino\'s father, Kip Sr., beat Jim Ryun to win 1,500m gold medal at 1968 Olympics and then won Olympic gold again in steeplechase at 1972 Summer Games. His father is now currently the President of The Kenyan Olympic Committee and a member of the International Olympic Committee. He also is still actively involved with training future African Olympic hopefuls. Kippy who heads into this weekend\'s Foot Locker South Regional Meet as a hopeful national qualifier, does not feel he has to live up to any special standards because of his family\'s running history. His brother Martin, was one of Kenya\'s top middle distance runners on the international scene in the 90\'s as he boasted bests of a 3:52 mile and a 3:33 1500 meter time. Despite what would seem obvious pressure for Kippy Jr. to live up to his family billing, the youngest of the Keino boys, the only pressure he acknowledges is the pressure he puts on himself.
At the MileStat.com Invitational, the two race winners displayed the opposite ends of the spectrum on how to win a cross country invitational. The Potomac School senior Cara Kiernan, the Independent School State Meet champion, set a blistering pace from the gun with the help of a handful of some of the state\'s top female cross runners to push her, to break the course record with her time of 17:52 (17:55 old record by Shannon Saunders). Kiernan\'s performance shows strong indication that she may have a chance to crack that top eight at Foot Locker next weekend. Tatu, who figured he might as well make a stop to run at the second annual event as he was heading up to watch his future college team, University of Virginia, take on Maryland in a football game, comfortably cruised to a winning time of 16:22 at almost a tempo run pace for him. As meet director, I\'d like to personally thank all the runners, parents, and coaches in helping make this meet an success as well as the greatly appreciated volunteer help from the Fork Union and Midlothian crew.
One of the biggest surprises at the state meet was the performance of West Springfield junior Steve Tobin in the AAA race. Few could have seen this coming as Tobin finished seventh in the race with a time of 16:21 to beat some of the state\'s best runners and help his team to third place finish as he earned athlete of the week honors.
Hayfield\'s Morgan Phelan was a district runner-up and regional runner-up, so she must have figured she might as well keep the streak going as she earned runner-up once again, but this time at the state level as she finished second to Hickory\'s Jennifer Boyd in the AAA race with her time of19:00, which was the third fastest time of the day to earn her athlete of the week honors.
The state\'s top harriers gathered in Great Meadows for one exciting state meet in the midst of chilling rain, temperatures in the 40\'s and muddy and slippery course conditions. While the weather broke a few top individuals and teams, there were many others that rose to the occassion and stepped it up on championship Saturday.
They weren\'t close to their best performances of the year, but the heavily favored Tabb boys and Jamestown girls still won Group AA Region I cross country titles Friday on the 3.1-mile Dunbar Farms Course at Eastern State Hospital.
The Northern Region Championships will be held this Thursday at Burke Lake Park on their 2.98 mile course with the boys race to begin at 3:30 p.m. and the girls race to follow at 4:15 p.m. The top four teams and top fifteen individuals in both races will automatically qualify for the AAA state championships at the Great Meadow course in The Plains on Saturday, November 16. While the air seems to be cleared as to the Thomas Jefferson boys squad being installed as the overwhelming favorite in their race, everything certainly seems to be up in the air.
As we get deep into the cross country season, we decided to go deeper with the coaches\' rankings as we now have expanded it to 10 teams and 25 individuals deep.
Photo gallery by John Herzog from the 2002 Central Region Meet held at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Virginia.