SALEM, VA -- Northside senior and defending AA state champion Catherine White opens her season tomorrow at the Knights Cross Invitational held at Green Hill Park in Salem. High expections are placed upon White this season as she was a three-time All-American last year in cross country and track including a national runner-up finish for two miles last indoor season at Nike Indoor Nationals. White has had some great performances at Green Hill in the past including a 17:57 5K at the Fab 5K last month. The meet will also feature one of the state\'s top girls teams in Blacksburg. A great individual battle should be waged between one of A\'s best in Nathan Brame of Radford and the #3 ranked individual in AA in Peter Dorrell of Blacksburg.
White, who will be competing at Great American in Hoover, Alabama next weekend, will be getting a tuneup race in before the big race in the Deep South on a familar course for her. With fellow Foot Locker All-American in Aurora Scott opening up with a 17:59 5K time to finish sixth against tough college competition at UVA\'s Lou Honesty Invitational, White will be looking to have a strong opening race as well and better her Green Hill Park best of 17:57. The Northside star did not compete in the meet in 2005, but won the race in 2004 with a time of 18:49.
North Cross junior Jane Gay is the top returnee from last year\'s Knights Crossing in which she finished fourth in a time of 19:16. Gay is one of the top ranked private school runners in the state and ran a second faster than her 2005 Knights Crossing time last month at the Fab 5K in 19:15.
The Blacksburg girls return as team champions and showed in their opening meet at Virginia Tech Invitational that they are much stronger than a year ago and hoping to make a splash into the Nike Team Nationals rankings soon. On Virginia Tech\'s 2.92 mile course (4700 meters), Blacksburg had three of the top four finishers in race winner Allison Homer (17:44), Cate Berenato (2nd, 18:03), and Laurel MacMillan (4th, 18:21) as they finished ahead of some very talented individuals including two of Group A\'s best in J.J. Kelly senior Brittany Killough (3rd, 18:12) and Buffalo Gap senior Mariah Hagadone (5th, 18:28). The trio currently finds themselves all ranked in the top 6 in the state for AA with Homer at #3, Berenato at #4, and MacMillan at #6.
With defending AA state champions Brentsville having issues with injuries this fall, the window of opportunity is there for Coach James Demarco squad to pose a serious threat. Both teams will see each other next weekend in the Race of Champions at Great American in Hoover as Blacksburg will be making the same trip with Northside\'s White.
Jefferson Forest looks to be the next best team behind Blacksburg as the #5 ranked team in AA with meet host and last year\'s team runners-up to Blacksburg in Cave Spring at #7 in AA currently.
Jefferson Forest is led by Donna Bryant, ranked #13 in AA, as the Lady Cavaliers are coming off a narrow second place finish at the Blue Demon Invitational hosted by Christiansburg High School. At Christiansburg, Jefferson Forest finished one point behind current #3 ranked team in AA, Pulaski County. Pulaski will be skipping the meet this weekend to compete at Tusculum Invitational in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Cave Spring will have one of the top individuals in the race in Rachel Travitz, a 5:10 miler and ranked #14 currently in AA. Travitz finished third (21:05) last weekend at the Blue Demon Invitational behind Jefferson Forest\'s Bryant (21:02) in second. As a team, Cave Spring finished 26 points behind Jefferson Forest in thrid place.
Other top individuals for Saturday\'s race in Salem include Hanover freshmen Lauren Hopper, who won the \"B\" race at Great Meadows last weekend in 20:07, which was seventh fastest on the day and ahead of many All-State caliber runners. Hanover should stack up well as a team also as they are looking to qualifier for their first state meet competition this fall as they have a solid front three in Hooper, Alicia Grove (19:51 5K), and April Morrissette (19:49). Hopper is currently ranked #11 in AAA.
Brookville sophomore Janel Reeves, an All-State performer in AA last fall, will open up her season tomorrow at Green Hill as she has a best of 19:13 for 5K.
After spending a year out of the country in Japan studying abroad, Blacksburg junior Peter Dorrell has returned to Virginia and is following through with the promise he showed as one of the state\'s top freshmen in the 2004-2005 school year. Dorrell opened up last weekend by winning the Virginia Tech Invitational in a time of 15:11 on the 2.92 mile course against one of the AAA\'s top returning runners in Ermin Mujezinovic of Herndon (15:27). As a freshmen at Blacksburg, Dorrell ran times of 4:31 for 1600 meters and 16:31 for 5K and finished fourth in the 2004 Knights Cross Invite in 16:44.
Dorrell will get another early season test this weekend from Radford junior Nathan Brame as he finished runner-up to defending AA state champion Griff Graves at last weekend\'s Blue Demon Invite. Brame ran a 16:21 on the Green Hill Park course last month at the Fab 5K, which would have won the 2005 Knights Cross Invite. Brame is the defending Group A 1600 meter state champion from outdoors.
The Jefferson Forest boys are coming off a win at the Blue Demon Invite as they finished 16 points ahead of host school Christiansburg. The Cavaliers are led by Matthew Kadak, who has yet to return to this top form from last fall in which he finished fifth in the AA state race with a personal best time of 16:13.
Christiansburg is led by Caleb Hughes, who finished fifth in the Blue Demon Invite last week in a time of 17:21.
Fort Defiance has some life after all despite losing three of their top four runners from a year ago as senior Daniel Alonso did not end up relocating after all as he finished second to former teammate Alex Ott, who transferred to Turner Ashby over the summer at the Eastern Mennonite Invitational. Fort Defiance also win the invite as a team as they have some momentum coming into this weekend\'s race. Alonso finished second in last year\'s race with a time of 16:42 as Fort Defiance won the meet by a decisive 65 point margin.
Host school Cave Spring will have one of the better individuals in the race in Tim Smith as the Knights junior finished third at the Blue Demon Invite and nine seconds behind Brame. Smith is also ranked 12th in AA currently.
The numbers are up for the third year meet as a total of 30 schools will be represented on Saturday, which is 12 more than last year\'s total.
Patrick Henry (Roanoke)
7:30 Course open
9:00 Coaches Meeting
9:30 (Boys and Girls) Developmental Race 3K
10:00 Girls Black "B" Race 5K
10:45 Boys Black "B" Race 5K
11:30 Girls Red "A" Race 5K – top 7 runners per team
12:00 Boys Red "A" Race 5K – top 7 runners per team
Directions to Green Hill Park:
From I-81 – take exit 137 (Salem). Either way you are coming, you will take a right at the bottom of the exit ramp. Follow past the hotels and restaurants till you get to the first traffic light. Go right onto Route 460. Go to the third light and go left onto Duiguids Lane. Cross the rail road tracks and you will come to Green Hill Park on your right. Please park in designated areas.