Regional competition around the state set up some very interesting state competition for this weekend. An article came out this past week to see which boys and girl's regions are the hardest to win. Obviously Region 4C with the best team in the country, Loudon Valley, and Region 6C, which West Springfield, came out on top of this list. But, this did not state the hardest region to qualify out of, and with the new VHSL classification system that has only has 3 teams advance per region, depth in a region is crucial and worrisome for good teams ranked 3-5 in their region.
Region 5B is without a doubt the deepest region in 5A and a contender for the most competitive region through all classifications as 4 of the top 5 teams in 5A boys are from the 5B region and 3 out of the top 5 teams in 5A girls.
The boys' race showed that tension that if anyone had a bad day they might not qualify for states. The Deep Run boys team took 6 guys through the mile with the lead pack, with Atlee, L.C. Bird, and Glen Allen in the mix as well. Colby Burcham and Brendan Taylor, both juniors, came out of the woods together, but Deep Run's Burcham continued his 5A dominance coming out victorious along with his team who also finished 1st. Glen Allen finished in 2nd, led by Ali Ibrahim. Through some great back half racing, L.C. Bird clinched the last spot to qualify for states in 3rd. That means that the team that a team that won RVA Relays and was also a contender for the state title, Atlee, did not qualify for a spot at states. A notable individual performance was Avery Withrow finishing 3rd as he continues his breakout season.
In the girls' race, Atlee continued their win streak against their 5A opponents Deep Run and Glen Allen, but not by much. Rachel Mudd and Cabell Franklin finished 1st and 3rd to help their team to a 56-point total. Deep Run was right behind Atlee with 58 points, a huge race for Deep Run which did not seem like a contender coming into this race as they lost to Glen Allen at districts. Glen Allen finished out in 3rd with 68 points, punching their ticket to states. Freeman had a great race and was only 11 points behind 3rd place
Deep programs that content for state titles also take pride in their JV teams. Deep Run's JV boys team followed suit with their varsity team and won with a 1st place finish from Emil Baggs as they almost swept going 1, 2, 3, 4, 7. 2A's Maggie Walker finished 2nd with Glen Allen on their heels in 3rd, and an impressive showing from Freeman finishing 4th. Glen Allen girls shocked the JV field with a 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 performances, led by Sasha Abielmona. Maggie Walker was 2nd again and then Deep Run in third.
The volatility between teams in 5B each week shows that every team needs to compete with everything they have to come out on top. Now, due to this tight region, a boys' team that may have won another region does not get to go to states as a team. This may be used as a prime example to re-classify this relatively new set-up as it is simply not working fairly right now. Going into states the only teams that will factor into the equation are Briar Woods and Albemarle for the boys' side, and Tuscarora and Rock Ridge on the girls' side. So, watch for region 5B's best to be competitive for individual and team titles on Saturday.