NXN Southeast Regional Coverage: Blacksburg girls & Tommy Mulroy onto Oregon!

The Blacksburg girls qualified as a team and Midlothian senior Tommy Mulroy qualified individually for the Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon as both were runners-up at the NXN Southeast Regional in Cary, North Carolina. Much much more to come from our coverage at WakeMed Soccer Park including more photos and a full meet summary on Sunday.


Runner-up squad for Blacksburg advances to nationals

After a season which they essentially had the bull's eye on them as the team to beat in Virginia and seen as a virtual shoe-in to make it to nationals, the day came in at the Nike Cross Southeast Regional for the Blacksurg girls to achieve that goal and live up to those expectations with a top two automatic qualifying finish in the regional meet. Their standard race strategy of going out conservative and controlled had them in 9th place at the 2K mark and over 100 points behind the eventual regional champions and three-time national qualifiers from Assumption High School in Kentucky. Over the next 3000 meters, the Virginia 3A state champions were able to leapfrog 7 teams and make up nearly 100 points on Assumption to finish runner-up by 14 points with a team score of 97 and team average of 18:39.  

Their top three was steady and constant all season as was the case down in Cary with Emily Beatty (21st, 18:22), Bonnie Angermeier (22nd, 18:23), and Claire Ewing-Nelson (30th, 18:39) finishing among the top 30 with Beatty and Angermeier moving up nearly 20 places in the last 3 kilometers. The Virginia 3A state cham Angermeier is likely capable of running under 18 minutes on a great day, which could have erased much of the distance between them and Assumption, so it will be interesting to see if they can be the top team in the region at the national race. The best race of the day on their team and moving up 56 places incredibly in the last 3K was freshmen Samantha Marin, who clocked a significant PR time of 18:40 as the team's #4 finisher in 32nd place. Marin and teammate Olivia Hodge as the team's #5 runner in 47th place at 19:09 were two of four Blacksburg runners to run personal best or season best times on the day, but the team ran good enough to be well clear of the pack of teams after them that had 2 points separating teams in 3rd through 6th place.

Blacksburg will making its second team appearance at the Nike Cross Nationals next weekend in Portland, Oregon on the girls' side as they follow the path of the 2009 squad, which finished 6th in the national race that still stands as the highest finish by a Virginia team in the meet history (boys or girls). This team does not have the great front runners like that team did with the Stevens twins, but is very capable of finishing in the top half of the field and breaking into the top 10 in the team standings in the mud and muck at Portland Meadows. Their boys' team became the first top 10 finishers ever by a Southeast region boys squad last December in Portland. With only one senior in their lineup in Claire Ewing-Nelson, the hope is that the Blacksburg girls will gain a lot of valuable experience from this year's national race and be a return qualifier next year ready to finish even high up in the field.

Despite missing almost the first 2 months of the cross country season, Ocean Lakes senior Nicole Park nearly qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals as an individual was able to run a PR in her final high school cross country race with an 8th place effort of 18:03. It was once feared even last month that Park might not be able to race at all this season, but she was able to make a remarkable comeback in starting her season at the 6A South Regional Meet with a 18:50 performance on November 7th. With a few more weeks of training under her belt, Park was able to drop 47 seconds in time and be the top individual finisher from the state of Virginia at NXN Southeast. Her previous personal best race came from her sophomore year when she surprised many with a state runner-up finish of 18:20 in the Group AAA race.  

Park also nearly led Ocean Lakes to a 3rd place finish in the NXN Southeast Regional as only a sixth runner tiebreaker kept them from being the first team in line for an at-large berth consideration. It was a tight squeeze and narrow margin for the schools in places 3rd through 6th place with Green Hope of North Carolina in 3rd place (173 pts), Ocean Lakes in 4th place (173 pts), Estero of Florida in 5th place (174 pts), and Padua Academy of Delaware in 6th place (175 pts). Rounding out the top 5 for Ocean Lakes after front runner Park was Erica Jackson (52nd, 19:16), Rachel Boyce (53rd, 19:16), Madeleine King (60th, 19:20), and Nicole Clanton (74th, 19:29). 

Beyond Park and Blacksburg's Beatty and Angermeier, four other Virginia girls were among the top 25 finishers and running times under 18:30 at WakeMed Soccer Park including West Potomac's Katie Genuario (15th, 18:14), Colonial Forge's Megan Rebholz (16th, 18:17), Battlefield's Saige Cisler (20th, 18:21), and Veritas School's Morgan Lewis (24th, 18:24). Both Cisler and Lewis are only freshmen. 


Tommy Mulroy drops huge PR (15:07) to earn ticket to Oregon with runner-up finish

The meet had great play-by-play announcing throughout the races giving updates of the current race leaders. It was a surprise to hear that Midlothian runner Tommy Mulroy was being announced challenging with the leaders including a pack of Brentwood (TN) runners, who ran around 15 minutes flat earlier in the season. Mulroy in that same race at WakeMed Soccer Pack clocked a time of 15:53. On Saturday nearly 2 months later, the Midlothian senior and Virginia 4A state champion found himself staring at finish line clock as he crested the final hill with first place right in front of him and the clocking reading just under 15 minutes. Mulroy finished his breakthrough race strong, but not able to reel in Brentwood's Taylor Caldwell for the win, but earned a trip to nationals as an individual qualifier with a 30 second personal best improvement in a 15:07 runner-up performance.

Midlothian has had a lot of great individual runners over the years and Mulroy's time at the NXN Southeast Regional is the second fastest in school history behind only 2007 Foot Locker finalist Jason Witt (15:03). Witt also competed in the 2006 Nike Cross Nationals as a junior and finished 7th in the race. Mulroy is certainly capable of finishing among the top 25 in the national field next Saturday in Oregon with the meet being deeper than in 2006 since adding in individual qualifiers.

Mulroy was also the top finisher on Virginia's top finishing team in the 4th place Midlothian boys. Coming into the meet, it appeared that the Virginian teams in the boys' race would be long shots to qualify but definitely should make up many of the top 10 places and make this year one of the deepest years for the Southeast Region. The Midlothian boys raced much better than their last appearance at WakeMed when they got buried back in the field in the Race of Champions at Great American with a team average over 16:40. In their last race of the season at NXN Southeast, Midlothian averaged 15:47 and tallied a score of 195 points to finish 4th overall in a field of 36 schools with a top four that matched up well with the three teams ahead of them between Mulroy (2nd, 15:07), Evan Benjamin (24th, 15:40), Collin Hahn (25th, 15:40), and Randy Hahn (39th, 15:50).

With the new 6A classification system, Midlothian didn't get a chance to race against the state's top teams in rolling through the competition in the 4A state race two weeks ago at Great Meadow, but was still able to post the fastest team average of the state meet teams at 16:04. With the exception of 6A state champions Chantilly missing from NXN Southeast, Midlothian got a chance to compete against the in-state teams this past weekend who could make an argument as being the best team in Virginia this fall between Lake Braddock, James W. Robinson, and Battlefield who were among that crazy cluster of a 4 point difference of the top 4 teams in the 6A state race with Chantilly. Lake Braddock (6th, 248 pts), James Robinson (9th, 337 pts) ran solid in their first NXN regional race appearance, while Battlefield (13th, 460 pts) had an off day to fall out of a top 10 finish.

Earning All-Southeast Region honors but just out of range of earning one of the top 5 individual national qualifier spots (cut-off was 9th place Nick Diaz from Florida at 15:22) were two juniors from Virginia in Lake Braddock's Alex Corbett (12th, 15:26) and John S. Battle's Brad Swiney (14th, 15:30). Swiney won his first cross country title this fall in the Group 2A classification, while Corbett will be one of the preseason favorites to win the 6A state title in 2014 after finishing second in this year's state race. Both also will be contenders next fall to race for national berths at either NXN or Foot Locker regionals.


2013 NXN Southeast Regional Championship Girls Race Video


2013 NXN Southeast Regional Championship Boys Race Video


NXN Southeast Regional Girls Team Champions
Assumption (KY) 83 pts - 18:34 average


NXN Southeast Regional Boys Team Champions
Brentwood (TN) 109 pts - 15:26 average


NXN Southeast Regional Girls Team Runners-up
Blacksburg (VA) 97 pts - 18:39 average


NXN Southeast Regional Boys Team Runners-up
Severna Park (MD) 110 pts - 15:37 average


NXN Southeast Regional Girls 3rd Place Team
Green Hope (NC) 173 pts - 18:56 average


NXN Southeast Regional Boys 3rd Place Team
Broughton (NC) 156 pts - 15:47 average


NXN Southeast Regional Girls Individual Champion
Nora McUmber (Bethesda-Chevy Chase MD) 17:34.3


NXN Southeast Regional Boys Individual Champion
Taylor Caldwell (Brentwood TN) 15:05.7




Race Videos:

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Video Interviews:


VA Championship Girls Race Highlights

VA Championship Boys Race Highlights