Round one is in the books but things are just getting started between cross-town rivals Albemarle and Western Albemarle. These two teams, just 14 miles apart, have historically fought over the bragging rights of being one of the best teams in the state. That trend will definitely continue this season.
This rivalry between the schools in cross country does go back quite a bit. Long enough that many former athletes have gone on to coach at these schools as well to continue the rivalry even on the coaching level.
Though the rivalry has been around for quite sometime, these past few years it has grown to another level. You would think it peaked last year when Albemarle won the 5A title and Western won the 3A but it looks like this year could be even better.
Both teams return five of their top seven runners from last year including both teams' leaders from States.
Wednesday and the Ragged Mountain Cup was the first of three major meets for these two squads this year. The next is Albemarle in October and final one will be States where the teams will race the clock and their own classification for ultimate bragging rights.
In the race itself this week it was clear that these two squads were better than the rest. They quickly opened up a lead and never looked back. Western led thru the first leg but legs two/three went to Albemarle.
Overall Western Albemarle had four of the top nine splits and Albemarle had four in the top 11.
So that brings us to the big question - which of these teams is better? They enter the season ranked 2nd and 4th in the entire state and as favorites to repeat as team champions. Last year at States Albemarle averaged 17:02 while Western went 16:17 as an average. A difference of 45 seconds or nine seconds per runner.
This season both teams are still young but healthier than last year. That definitely means the rivalry is not going anywhere and only getting better.