All photos by Tim Hagen
Outside of the Potomac Falls boys roll through the 32 team seeded varsity division with a team score of 118 points and time average of 16:26 on the newly designed full 5000 meter course at Bull Run Regional Park, the Glory Days Grill Invitational was full of thrilling finishes and nail biters in determining the team outcome. The VA #9 ranked Potomac Falls made easy work of the field putting their entire top five under 17 minutes including three among the top 20 in Juan Campos (9th, 16:09), Connor Wilson (14th, 16:18) and Nick Mogensen (18th, 16:20) to put 74 points between them and runners-up James Robinson (192 pts). The Robinson boys have been surging in the past two weeks with their solid team showing at Great American last week as they clipped VA #14 and Northern Region rival South Lakes (3rd, 209 pts) for second in the team standings and look to challenge for one of the four state meets at the regional meet at Burke Lake in a few weeks.
Northwest High School's (Germantown, MD) Chris Miller defeated some of the better runners from the Northern Region including Abraham Yacob (2nd, 15:42) of Robert E. Lee, Sean McGorty (5th, 15:53) of Chantilly, and Paul Gates of W.T. Woodson (8th, 16:01) as well as top Group AA runners from the Northwest corner of the state in Tommy Curtin (3rd, 15:42) of Loudoun County, Thomas Delaney (4th, 15:51) of John Handley, and Juan Campos (9th, 16:01) of Potomac Falls in his 15:35 victory.
While Northwest's Miller was able to create a gap of 7 seconds by the finish line on his nearest competitors, there was no breathing room between Thomas Edison's Myah Hicks and Herndon's Carolyn Hennessey. Hicks was able to repeat as Glory Days Grill Invite champion after winning last year's race on a shorter course in 18:18, but not before having to sprint through the line for a second win due to a hard charging Hennessey as both runners posted matching final times of 18:28. The two led a total of eight others under 19 minutes at the new 5K course including Robert E. Lee freshmen Bailey Kolonich (3rd, 18:38) and Monacan junior Kaila Blackburn (4th, 18:46).
It was bragging rights for Fairfax County with two of the county's arguably best group of athletes pulled onto teams with the science & technology magnet school of Thomas Jefferson and private catholic school of Bishop O'Connell. The Thomas Jefferson girls were able to remain unbeaten in invitational competition, but their streak of wins only remained alive after a one point scare from the O'Connell girls. The O'Connell girls were coming off their big win at the Wendy's Invitational in Charlotte, NC with three girls well under 19 minutes and their top three did their job against Thomas Jefferson at Glory Days as well with Sarah McCarthy (6th, 18:50), Devin Nihill (7th, 18:51), and Emily Blagg (14th, 19:12) all finishing among a very tough top 15 to crack into. However, the TJ girls turned the tables on O'Connell with their depth in the fourth and fifth runner spots to make up the points difference lost on O'Connell's front three with a 1:08 top five pack and team score of 91 points to squeak by O'Connell's total of 92 points and 1:24 scoring five spread. The seeded varsity girls' race featured to two favorites to win state cross country team titles in private school O'Connnell and Group A George Mason (3rd, 150 pts), while team champions Thomas Jefferson figure to be one of Group AAA favorite Midlothian's top challengers.