Once again, meet management is very pleased to welcome all the competitors, along with the coaches, parents, other relatives of the participating runners as well as all the other interested followers of cross country, to the 15th Annual Glory Days Grill Invitational at Bull Run Regional Park.
Everyone concerned with the meet will be looking forward to an exciting morning and afternoon of racing, with approximately 1,500 runners reperesenting 70 schools scheduled to compete in one of the nine races to be contested on Bull Run's 5,000 meter (3.1 miles) layout.
The course has undergone a few changes over the years, but meet management has done its best to maintain as much of the original course as can be expected, with the venue not undergoing any site changes since last year; hence, the course is still one of the most spectator friendly courses that can be found in the mid-Atlantic area.
For those first time fans to the course, if you position yourselves somewhere between the starting and finishing line area for the beginning of the races and then follow the general flow of the experienced onlookers in the crowd, it should allow at least a half dozen times to be close to and encouraging; but please not impeding, any of the athletes competing.
The meet will once again try to fulfill all the high school runners and coaches needs with a variety of races scheduled to accomodate various skill levels of participation.
At each level, the boys race will precede the girls race. The meet has been held just about every year on the same weekend as SAT testing, but with no SAT's this weekend, the time schedule has been moved up by an hour and a half over previous years.
The freshmen boys will start things off at 10:00 a.m. followed by the freshmen girls at 10:30 a.m. Both races have an unlimited number of entries for each school as these ninth graders get an important opportunity to race solely against their other first year high school peers.
The junior varsity races begin at 11:00 a.m. and greatly benefit the large number of hardworking youngsters who are very involved in their school's distance running programs and like the freshmen races, should also be set up to have an unlimited number of entries for each school.
For many of the J.V. boys and girls runners, it is probably their last chance, and possibly their first chance of the season, to compete in such a large scale meet.
Due to the large number of junior varsity runners on the boys side, there will be two J.V. races determined by a random split, with the Division I junior varsity boys starting at 11:00 a.m. followed by the Division II boys at 11:30 a.m. and then the J.V. girls race at 12:00 noon.
The Varsity B boys race then follows at 1:00 p.m. with the Varsity B girls at 1:30 p.m. in races that will pit many of the schools with smaller enrollments against the second tier of the larger schools entered.
Highlighting the day will be the Varsity Seeded boys race which is scheduled to go off at 2:05 p.m. with the Varsity Seeded girls race concluding the running events with their start slated for 2:30 p.m. as many of the top individuals and teams from the metropolitant area square off against each other, with the awards ceremony to follow at 3:15 p.m.
This meet began in 1992 mostly from the mindset of former Northern Region coach and activities director Mike Dobson and was originally know as the Bull Run Invitational, but it has since become the Glory Days Grill Invitational due to the generous sponsorship by Glory Days Grill restaurants.
"Glory Days" is now in its ninth year of sponsoring the meet and restaurant co-founders Jeff Newman, Rich Danker and Bob Garner are once again pleased to be involved in the myriad of action and cooperation which is needed to pull off and event like this which has such a large number of people involved.
Jeff, Rich and Bob, along with the rest of the Glory Days Grill staff led by Tracy Atwell, would like to thank in advance all of the volunteers involved in concessions, parking, results compilation and all other necessary forms of meet management and would especially like to thank Mike Dobson, Mike Kiernan, Matt Gilchrist and Scott Raczko for all of the extra time and help they put in for this meet each and every year.
Varsity Seeded Preview: Boys
Quince Orchard (MD) is the defending boys team champion and once again is fielding a stellar team with a nice shot at winning the team title again.
Quince Orchard ran very well last week in finishing second to Brentsville at the Octoberfest Invitaional in The Plains and is very solid up front with their one-two punch of seniors Neal Darmody and David Laratta.
Darmody had an excellent race last week as the runnerup to Thomas Porter of Mountain View and Laratta also had a strong showing with his sixth place finish at Great Meadow.
Robinson was the top Northern Region team finisher at Octoberfest last week, as they came in fourth place and the Rams are led by Jared Berman and Martin Wester.
W.T. Woodson finished just behind Robinson last week in fifth place with their top runner Nate Martins and Lake Braddock took the next spot behind the Cavaliers with both Devin Edgell and Alex Clark recording top fifteen individual finishes for the Bruins at Octoberfest.
Top returnees scheduled to enter the race from last year include senior Nic Bax of St. Alban's, who was the runnerup last year to graduated Mike Spooner of West Springfield; junior Ben Dejarnette of Atlee, who placed sixth in last year's race and finished ahead of Mountain View's Porter at the Maymont Invitational in Richmond two weeks ago, and Chris York of Clarke County.
Others to watch among the leaders this year include junior Leoule Degfae of Edison, who was the runnerup at both the Monroe Parker meet and the Oatlands Invitational last month as well as placing fourth at Great Meadow last week; Leoule's twin brother Tihut Degfae, who recorded a top ten finish last week in The Plains, along with Doug Fenstermacher of Gloucester, sophomore Chris Foley from Chantilly, Campbell Ross of The Potomac School, Joshua Hardin of Potomac Falls, Charles Horne from Paul VI and Madison's Corey Lofton, who thus far has greatly benefited from more training in the summer than in years past.
Varsity Seeded Preview: Girls
Lake Braddock has been running well all season long as their storied program continues on another successful campaign. The Bruins, easy winners at Monroe Parker earlier this season and with a second place finish at Great Meadow last week, have a very strong starting five in Anna Corrigan, Amanda Parker, Kelly Hagan, Liana Epstein and Erin Landy and will be pointing towards a very strong effort at Glory Days to provide plenty of impetus towards the district, region and state meets right around the corner.
Robinson was fifth last week at Octoberfest and should be a contender down the road for a shot at getting their team to states this season led by junior Stephanie Bray.
West Springfield also appears poised for a late season surge like they had last year with Rosemary Barber and Paige Kvartunas in their top two spots as they finished second at the Disney Classic in Orlando, FL last weekend.
The race for top individual honors appears very wide open. Junior Megan Fitzpatrick of Bishop Dennis J. O'Connell is coming off a big win last week at Great Meadow and also won the gold division at Maymont the previous week.
Kristin Wolfe of James River finished seventh in the invitational division at Maymont with a time two seconds faster than Fitzpatrick's time and Wolfe has very solid credentials, including a fifth place finish at last year's AAA state meet.
Chantilly junior Lia DiValentin did not race last week, but finished third at Oatlands the prior week and claimed the Monroe Parker individual title last month.
Also not to be counted out are Northwest freshman Brittany Eckerstrom, who had a furious surge in the last 200 meters at Great Meadow last week to just finish a stride or two behind Fitzpatrick of O'Connell and also Woodbridge's Michelle Britto, who was just one second behind Eckerstrom in third place last week.
Some of the top returnees from last year's race include senior Elizabeth Heath of defending team champion West Potomac, Fairfax junior Frankie Dowd, the Northwest trio of Emma Eckerstrom, Kathy Aherne and Becca Stinner; the Clarke County duo of juniors Sophia Holmes and Erin Broy and Georgetown Visitation's Moira Ryan, South County's Madeline Willner, Susanna Sullivan from George Mason, West Potomac's Kelsey Rosenberg and Aaren Pastor of W.T. Woodson.
Others who are running well this year and should be among the leaders include Anneka Wilson of The Potomac School, Laura Rapp of Heritage, Gloucester's Hannah Varnell and Christina Lee of Potomac Falls.
Concessions will be sold throughout the meet behind the press box area. There will also be a tent set up by the concession area for sales of tee shirts and hats.
We appreciate the help and additional sponsorship of Nike in swooshing down to Manassas to help in that endeavor and also the commitment throughout the years of Metro Run and Walk for their continual support of cross country and track and field.
The team and individual awards ceremony will be at the pavilion situated down the hill and to the left of the press box approximately fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the final race (Varsity Seeded Girls).
Please do not impede the progress of any of the runners during the race by being too close to the course's race line. This is important at all times and especially near the finish line where some of the spectators invariably display a slight bit of overexuberance.
Team and individual results will be posted during the meet as soon as we have them. Complete results will be sent to www.milestat.com immediately following the conclusion of the meet.
We are certain that Brandon Miles will display his usual diligence in posting them on the net as soon as possible; if not by Saturday night, then at least by Sunday morning.
Brandon is hoping to do double duty this Saturday, first by attending the Lee-Davis Invitational at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville and then hoping to catch the final races at Bull Run. If you see Brandon at the meet, don't forget to mention to him how much everyone appreciates his committment to cross country and track and field.
Finally, please do not leave any trash discarded on the grounds of the park at any time during the meet. Mike Dobson has been working too hard this week to also have to be picking up other people's garbage as nightfall approaches.
Thanks in advance and good luck to all participants.