VHSL Group 1
Recent history in Group 1 has been highlighted by close team title battles and the dominance of Auburn High School from Riner. This year could be a continuance of that trend with Auburn favored in both races but only by 10 and 8 points respectively.
Individually leading the way in these races and also the biggest storyline of the Group 1 meet is the May Siblings - Dylan & Kensey May - from Parry McCluer. Dylan returns after being the runner-up last year while his little sister Kensey enters as the strong favorite as only a freshman.
First up will be the girls championship race where 104 individuals will take to the course for a chance at the state title. Though Kensey May does lead on paper by a substantial 23 second margin, she is joined by three other girls who could seriously take home the state title.
It should be noted as well that the entire top six from last year's race returned this year too.
The three other girls vying for this state title are defending champion Rachel Weghorst (Rappahannock County), runner-up last year Catherine Grossman (Patrick Henry), and fellow freshman Morgan Dalton (George Wythe).
With four girls in contention the race will come down to strategy. Kensey, who leads on paper, will likely be the early leader. She has faced basically no opposition all year after the first mile and will likely look to continue that this weekend. Expect her to create a gap prior to the water crossing and never look back.
If the race goes differently though things could get very exciting. Since we have not seen her be pushed until the line, it could be argued that a closer race may favor one of the other girls. That is where the pace will come into the race in a big way. Expect to know the outcome just prior to the two Mile mark.
Team wise Auburn and Parry McCluer will be in a a tough dual. The team title battle will literally come down to the head-to-head finishes between these two. We expect it to mirror the 2016 finish between James Madison and Lake Braddock where the 4th and 5th finishers will finish close to each other and decide this race.
Remember, a flip in order is worth twice as much. Those moves are crucial as they take away and add points to the battling teams.
Next up will be the first boys race of the weekend with a super close individual race up front. Heading into the weekend it is Dylan May and Holston's Jordan Keith at the top of the ticket. Both runners finished second and third last year and were only five seconds apart. This year it is almost the exact same storyline but with a reversed order.
Entering the competition it is Jordan Keith leading on paper with his 15:59 season best, just ahead of May's 16:10 solo performance at the MileStat.com XC Invitational. It is another 30 seconds though to the next runners: Josh Tomiak (George Wythe), Cameron Sterns (Mathews), and Adam Downs (Auburn).
This race is expected to be a runaway race with Keith and May setting the pace from early on and not looking back. With a complete look at their resumes it appears that May is the favorite for this race but to win will have to have one of his best races ever.
In the team competition Auburn will be attempting to win their fourth team title in a row. Last year's runners-up George Wythe and last year's fourth place Mathews will be chasing them and making it a closer meet than what our virtual meet says. This race will come down to who the first 15 finishers are.