Oatlands Invitational - Girls Preview

There is definitely room for two big meets on the final weekend of September as while the McDonald's Maymont Festival will be held in Richmond this weekend, an equally large invitational with over 3,500 runners will going off at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Virginia for the Oatlands Invitational. The meet was able to draw one of the country's historically best cross country programs in the Saratoga Springs girls from New York and will feature some stellar individual runners.

The Saratoga Springs girls come in as the #14 ranked team in the country and will be heavy favorites to win big at Oatlands. After being left out of the Nike Team Nationals, the 2005 NTN champions are aiming to return back to Portland, Oregon as they are currently ranked #3 in New York. The state is a hot bed for cross country teams as last year's NTN champions was another New York squad in Fayetteville-Manlius as F-M is currently ranked #1 in the state ahead of Saratoga.

Oatlands definitely will have a loaded field of individual girls to go along with the nationally ranked Saratoga Springs. Maryland's best in Morgan Gay will challenge Saratoga Springs' top runner in returning Footlocker finalist Hannah Davidson for the first place honors at Oatlands. Star runner for Walt Whitman High School, Gay has ran well into the 18's this season for 5K and on the track last spring, posted a 1600 meter best of 4:55. Gay is the top returnee from the 2006 Oatlands race as she finished third with a time of 19:08.

The out-of-state girls may go 1-2 individually, but do not count out some of the Virginian girls in the race as meet directors Derek Farrey and Matt Oblas have assembled many of Northern Virginia as well as Virginia's best distance girls this weekend. Lia DiValentin at #3, Ariel Karabinus at #4, Susanna Sullivan at #7, Hiruni Wijayaratne at #11, and Tasia Potasinski at #13 all were ranked this past weekend in Virginia's top 15 All-Class individual rankings on MileStat.com.


DiValentin (pictured above by Ted Plunkett) has yet to be defeated this season as she has also moved into the #1 ranking in AAA and a favorite for the state title in the classification. The Chantilly junior has already picked up wins at the Monroe Parker Invite and Judges Classic. A third win at Oatlands Invite would be a huge momentum boost to not only a state title run for DiValentin, but also looking further ahead to qualifying for Footlocker Nationals field with a win over such a strong field.

Osbourn Park sophomore Ariel Karabinus has already defeated the preseason #1 AAA ranked runner in Kathleen Lautzenheiser of Midlothian in a runner-up finish at the Great Meadow Invite and a win over DiValentin would certainly give her a legitimate claim for a #1 ranking in AAA. Karabinus has carried over her strong finish from the AAA State Outdoor 3200 meter race to this fall in cross country as she recorded a 18:38 5K personal best in her first race out at Great Meadow. 


Both Sullivan and Wijayaratne (pictured above by Robert Weatherly) are often overlooked, while for distance reasons. Sullivan's accomplishments have been glanced over by many running for a Group A school, while Wijayaratne gets overshadowed with the many great runners in the Northern Region. However, the other runners in the Oatlands Invite will be foolish to sleep on either as both Sullivan and Wijayaratne have broken 19 minutes for 5K this season and will only add to a competitive individual battle. Wijayarante claimed the Virginia Tech Invite title three Saturdays ago, while Sullivan placed third at the Gettysburg Invite two weeks ago behind one of Pennsylvania's best in Kara Millhouse with a 5K time of 18:54.

After the Saratoga Springs girls, the teams battling for the postions after the New York squad might be a preview of the Northern Region Meet with Westfield, James Robinson, Thomas Jefferson, and Herndon all looking to see how each matches up with the other this weekend. Westfield has beaten James Robinson on two occassions already this season at Monroe Parker and William & Mary, while this will be Herndon and Thomas Jefferson's first races facing a large continent of the regional foes after Herndon took second at the Virginia Tech Invite behind Blacksburg in early September, while the TJ girls were runners-up to the AA #1 ranked squad on the weekend after at the Knights Crossing Invite.


Both Westfield (team pictured above by Ted Plunkett) at #7 and James Robinson at #9 are ranked among the top 10 teams in state coming into this weekend. Westfield is led by Tasia Potasinski, who has had a great start to her cross country season with second place runs at Monroe Parker Invite and William & Mary Invite. 

Millbrook girls look to stand the best shot of breaking up the Northern Region schools as the AA #3 ranked team is led by one of the state's best freshmen cross country runners in Presley Parkes. Parkes is ranked #3 among AA individuals as she ran a 5K personal best of 19:13 two weeks ago in a runner-up showing at the Judges Classic behind Chantilly's DiValentin. Millbrook as a team has already won three invitational team titles (Chancellor, Eastern Mennonite, Judges Classic) this fall.