Almost lost among the large September invitationals is a gem of a meet held on site at Bruton High School in northern York County. The Big Cat draws teams from the Richmond, Roanoke, and Fredericksburg areas - squads that are looking for unfamiliar competition and a fast course.
And the Bruton course is speedy, with just over 500 meters, including the final 150, taking place on its rubberized track which encircles the field the Panthers affectionately call "The Pit."
This year, Menchville appeared to benefit more than any other team. Battling against Douglas Freeman in the boys' and girls' races, the Monarchs unleashed a purple and gold torrent around the river and through the woods of eastern Williamsburg.
In the girls' race, last year's champion, Arionne Riddick placed runner-up to Freeman's Liza Neely this year; however, her time of 19:20 was a 17-second PR.
And for the senior, who is likely headed to attend and compete for Coastal Carolina next year, her time was reason enough to celebrate.
"I was trying my best to PR, and figured I would win if I could," said Riddick, who specializes in the 1000 (3:01) and 800 (2:18) during the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Both Riddick, and the Monarch girls, coached by Patrick Day, are seeded fourth in this week's 757 Top-15.
It was the boys who pulled off the morning's biggest surprise, placing 2-3-4-11-12 to win the team title over Freeman with 32 points. With the victory, and 16:56 per man average among the top-five, the Monarchs, coached by Dennis Zollicoffer, have earned this week's top spot in the rankings, ahead of Grafton (17:16) and Princess Anne (17:21).
Freeman's Luke Neely joined his sister on the leaderboard with his winning time of 16:42, two ticks ahead of the Menchville triad.
Just up the road, on the Eastern State Hospital course, Jack Powell and Ellie Goldberg won the boys' and girls' races at the Walsingham Invitational.
Powell, an Isle of Wight Academy junior, paced the boys in 18:16, while Goldberg, an eighth-grader from Hampton Roads Academy, won by almost a minute with her 22:11 performance.
Hampton Roads Top-15 Teams and Individuals
Finally, among Hampton Roads harriers, the cream is rising to the top. There will still be plaenty of changes over the next seven weeks, but the list has become relatively all-inclusive, as almost every team has an invitational result on record.
After four weeks, here are the top-15 teams in Hampton Roads, with 16-18 noted as "others."
Top 15 Teams in the 757
Kellam (top-5 avg. 19:58)
Catholic (formerly Bishop Sullivan)
Others - Peninsula Catholic, Gloucester, Tallwood, Salem
Maeve Stiles - Maury (5K - 18:34)
Logan Warden - Princess Anne
Hope Frost - Stonebridge
Arionne Riddick - Menchville
Lily Schlossberg - Kellam
Alyssa Campbell - Kellam
Saylor Burris - Western Branch
Aniya Mosley - Ocean Lakes
Maggie Reed - Ocean Lakes
Kiera Cleveland - Oscar Smith
Madison Roche - Kellam
Lily Hoffman - Kellam
Hailey Rorick - Catholic
Christina Ceniccola - Kellam
Bridget Young - Catholic
Menchville (top-5 avg. - 16:56)
Catholic (formerly Bishop Sullivan)
Others - Peninsula Catholic, Tallwood, Gloucester, Salem
Alex Sawyer - Princess Anne (5K - 16:23)
Wesley Bond - Landstown
James Aldridge - Menchville
Alejandro Ramirez - Menchville
Ben Diongzon - Menchville
Taylor Price - Smithfield
Zachary Sturm - Grafton
Jackson Cinnamond - Princess Anne
Jonathon Leiding - Landstown
Hunter Quigley - Catholic
Ben Madrigal - Grafton
Lucas Simmons - Western Branch
Brandon Edwards - Menchville
Harrison Ladd - Ocean Lakes
John Michael Cabral - Menchville