Huge races and undeniable talent took to the course in day one's competition at Great Meadow. Over 600 athletes toed the line and finished a brutal 5K today in sunny but very windy conditions. Leading all finishers and completing his final race in the commonwealth of Virginia was Loudoun Valley senior and now Oregon commit Andrew Hunter. He blazed the course one last time in 15:04.
He may have been upset at the conditions and his time but was beyond elated to have won the 4A team title in a complete rout.
Running just before Drew though was one of the greatest battles the state meet has ever had talent wise with Weini Kelati (Heritage) and Libby Davidson (E.C. Glass) squaring off. Weini did her normal routine opening crazy fast but this time Libby wouldn't go away. She even admitted it was her first race in a long time that she felt good the entire race. Though Weini would eventually hold onto that gap and come away with her first state title in 17:22, this race showed us we are in store for some more great races hopefully in San Diego in a couple weeks.
Aside from these three stars in the opening races we had quite the field of competition. The girls' 4A race had Noel Palmer (LCA) third and Georgie Mackenzie (Heritage) fourth with Kami Decarmo (E.C. Glass) fifth. This was Noel's first state meet, after LCA joined the VHSL this fall, and quite the finish considering she is only a junior and finished in 19:07 in these conditions. Senior Mackenzie went out in a bang finishing fourth in 19:14 but also with a team title! Kami DeCarmo finished fifth in a time of 19:18.
Heritage's Girls team took the 4A crown with Loudoun Valley second. On the boys' side Loudoun Valley was victorious and saw Fauquier and Sherando battle it out for second and third respectively.
In the boys' 4A race itself it was all Andrew Hunter from the start. He gapped the field quickly and never looked back. His teammate Colton Bogucki moved up early to start and was near the top for most of the race but Price Owens, Konrad Steck, and Tyler Cox-Philyaw all ran stellar the final mile to move up even more. Steck would go on to place second in a very respectable time of 16:00 with Price Owens third at 16:16. It was then Cox-Philyaw, Bogucki, Morris, and then Amine at 16:18-21.
Next on the course was one of the most star-studded team battles of the season in the girls' 6A race. Though they were separated by just one point at the mile mark, the Lake Braddock Bruins always seem to find a way to win and pulled away from the field to claim the team title. They were led by individual 6A state champion, junior Kate Murphy in 18:20.
Making a huge move up and finishing in second behind Lake Braddock was Oakton who were two-time defending champs coming into the competition. They were both then followed by James Madison.
Individually Kate Murphy had a lot of competition with Rachel Northcutt (freshman- Cosby) just 40m behind her the entire race and finishing at 18:46. Kate definitely used her veteran racing skills to not let Northcutt gain ground but also should be very aware of how good Northcutt is. Kate Murphy is one of the best distance runners our state has ever seen, there is no disputing that, but Northcutt is scary good considering how well she hung today.
Behind this killer duo, that will be back next year, were Casey Kendall and Jill Bracaglia both from Oakton and at 18:49. They were joined by Sara Freix of Westfield who was fifth at 18:56.
Also finishing in a note-worthy position was Faith Ross of Western Branch. She finished in a solid 13th position in 19:13 in her final XC race to make all-state honors. This performance is noteworthy considering the fact that she is not a XC runner but #7 all-time in the 100 hurdles and #18 all-time in the 55m hurdles.
In the 6A boys' race there were some hurdles of their own. The biggest of which that was overcome was the five year drought that 6A South had suffered without a winner. Per the adage, when it rains it pours, they not only won the 6A title for the first time since 2009 but went 1-2-3! Leading the way for them was Cox senior Jonathan Lomogda who was then followed by Cosby sophomore Grant Northcutt and then by Clover Hill's Dalton Randall. They finished in 15:34, 15:56, 15:57 respectively. A feat not accomplished since 2001!
6A North though got the last laugh though as they routed their competition and went 1-2 in the team competition. Lake Braddock destroyed the field and won their second title in a row with an impressive score of 44 and average of 16:23. This average was the fastest of the day beating out Loudoun Valley's average of 16:24. The Bruins were led by senior Colin Schaefer who was 4th at 16:02 and Conor Lyons a junior who was 8th at 16:16.
Also finishing inside the top 5 was 5th place runner Robert Lockwood of W.T. Woodson at 16:06.
In the final two races of the day the people who stuck around were treated with some of the best races of the entire year. The first of these two races was the girls' 5A race that featured Emma Wolcott, defending champ Heather Holt, and last year's runner-up Doria Martingayle.
There was some movement early on but by 1200m in Emma Wolcott, Heather Holt, and Doria Martingayle decided to separate and make it a three runner race. Doria was forced though to do a lot of the hard work herself and fight to keep up with these two greats being that after the mile she fell back just a few short seconds. It should be noted though that all three of these girls are underclassmen as well.
Through a mile then through two miles and even through 2.5 miles it was dead even between these two sophomores and Doria who is a junior. It wasn't until almost exactly at the 3 mile mark that Emma made her move and left Holt's side. She powered down the stretch like there was no wind and crossed the line victoriously in 17:55, the third best time of the day behind only Kelati and Davidson.
Holt held on to second in a time of 18:36 and Doria finished strong in 18:50. Jodi Tolarchyk (Hickory) finished fourth in 19:03 and Ava Hassebrock (Tuscarora) finished the top five out in 19:09 as only a freshman.
As you could see by the top five finishers, Tuscarora just ran too well to be caught by anyone and finished as the team champions with a score of 75 which was 14 ahead of Albemarle who ran well together to finish in second despite finishing a distant 4th in their own regional.
The final race of the day proved to be just as entertaining. It also went very much to script with Waleed Suliman (Douglas Freeman) gapping the field early and never looking back. Though most coaches would hesitate to tell an athlete to just go out as fast as you can, it just seems to work for Suliman. For example, he opened in 4:43 which was just 3 seconds slower than Mr. Drew Hunter.
Despite the crazy racing style he did hold on to win and by hold on we mean never looked back until the final stretch as he crossed the line in an impressive 15:41 as a junior. He was followed by Tuscarora senior Fitsum Seyoum in 15:56 who solo chased him for nearly the entire race. Saurav Velleleth (Thomas Jefferson) was third in 16:05 after running a very strong last mile and was joined by Jackson Morton 16:10 (Stone Bridge) and Harrison Martingayle 16:12 (Princess Anne) to complete the top five for 5A.
Stealing the show big time and coming with what they wanted was Stone Bridge's Boys team who ran four guys into the all-state honors scoring 4-7-8-13 points for their top 4. That combination just was uncatchable for any team no matter how fast you were and saw them win the team title with 78 points. TJ was a close second with 84 and Tuscarora brought home third place with 92.