For Princess Anne senior Jackson Martingayle, it hasn't been easy to carry on the running tradition set forth first by his oldest brother, and then carried on by his siblings Harrison, now running for LSU, and Doria, who won the 5A 3200-meter run title in the spring of 2016. But the younger Martingayle has found parts of his brother and sister's style to emulate.
"I've tried to maintain by brother's consistency," said Jackson, minutes after winning the 5A Region cross-country championship with a time of 16:11.88, which was good enough to outdistance Gloucester's top-seeded Joshua Shackelford (16:19.1) and Andrew Nixon of Hickory (16:26.57). "And I want to be a better (race) finisher like my sister."
Jackson put a little of both styles into play on Wednesday at Chesapeake's Bells Mill Park. "I was trying to keep it under control, but wanted to run hard in the middle, get a little gap and have a strong finish."
It worked. Martingayle built an eight-meter lead just after the two-mile mark and used his long forward-leaning stride to hold off the two main challengers. His win also propelled the Cavaliers to the team title as the top three runners each represented the top three teams, with Princess Anne winning with 25 points, while Gloucester and Hickory tied with 66. However, Gloucester earned the runner-up trophy by virtue of having the faster sixth runner.
In the boys 6A, Western Branch's Chase Osborne outkicked Tyler Lipps of Ocean Lakes to win by six seconds with a 15:40 effort. But the Dolphins seized the team championship, netting 32 points to the Bruins 66. Grassfield (123) nosed out Landstown for the third and final state team qualifying spot.
Osborne credited his victory to a bout of unpredictability.
"We have run here so many times," said Osborne. "I threw in more surges than usual all over the course."
The reasoning was simple.
"The last time we raced (against each other) I stuck behind him and his teammate got up behind me and surprised me. This time, I questioned his lead."
However, in the girls' 5A race, the bout felt by Maury's Maeve Stiles was more real and severe, as the junior battled through strep throat to win in 19:10. (See accompanying story). For her Commodores, the team win was more dramatic and meaningful as it will mark their first state appearance in several years, and team title in many more, a point noted by the victor.
"For a Norfolk school to be out here beating Virginia Beach schools is a big deal!" exclaimed Stiles, who contracted the bug early Monday morning, and after an absent day, was sent home from school on Tuesday because "they said I looked horrible."
Maury's 43 points was well ahead of second-place Princess Anne and Gloucester who also tied with 83, but relied on their sixth runners to determine the team standing.
A surprise winner culminated the day's events as Ocean Lakes' Meredith King outpaced favorite Kiera Cleveland of Oscar Smith, as well as teammate Savannah Bowers, to reach the finish line first in 19:20.82. Bowers was second in 19:25.53.
"I felt good at the two mile mark, so I just pushed and created a gap (for the lead), said King, who entered the race with the fifth fastest seed time. The Dolphins swept the team titles as the girls chalked up a mere 30 points to beat Kellam (57) and Cox (84).
The top three teams and top five at-large finishers all qualified for the 5A and 6A state meet, which will be held next weekend at Great Meadow Park in The Plains, VA.