There is no better way to end the regular season than with a PR-party. That is what it will be Saturday at Pole Green Park with the running of the 14th MileStat.com XC Invitational. Competing will be over 3,500 athletes from 140+ schools spanning Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
Headlining this weekend's action will also be team favorites for Class 3,4,5, and 6 as well as some of the strongest teams in VISAA as well. From top to bottom this meet is going to be fast, competitive, and deep.
Up first on Saturday will be the girls' championship race. This varsity "A" race will be run at 8:30am in what should be very ideal running conditions.
Entered in this race are 51 teams, seven of whom average under 20:00 as a team. The pre-meet favorite being Chapel Hill of NC who enters the weekend boasting a 18:47 average just ahead of Blacksburg with their 18:58 average.
Also entered and averaging under 20 minutes is (in order) Midlothian, Ocean Lakes, Kellam, Maggie Walker, and Forest Park. Cosby and Western Albemarle are just outside of that as well averaging 20:00.03 and 20:01.02 respectively.
Though right now it looks like it is going to purely be a battle between Chapel Hill and Blacksburg upfront, there are still more matchups to watch than we can preview. Here are some of the big matchups including this one versus two.
NC #2 - Chapel Hill vs VA #2 - Blacksburg
This one is going to be exciting. Though CH does have a slight advantage on paper, you really cannot count out Blacksburg if Kaitlynn Wolfe is healthy and racing at 100%. She did not race at Great American and that one race makes a big difference at it relates to averages and scores. She will be key to the Bruins' hopes of victory this weekend.
Chapel Hill derives their greatness not from just one or two individuals but from a very strong 1-5 finishing just seconds within each other. Right now in the virtual meet they score 74 points from 11th place to 19th place as their spread. If they are able to do that Saturday, they will put five in front of Blacksburg's third.
To win Blacksburg is going to need some very low numbers upfront. Depth is not an issue for this Bruin squad.
VA #7 - Ocean Lakes vs VA #6 - Kellam
You would have to go back to 2011 to see the last time a non-NOVA team won the state championship for this classification. This year could be different though with both Kellam and Ocean Lakes near or at the top of the Class 6 team race currently. Though both teams will see each other again at regionals, this weekend is a big point in the season for both of them as they size each other and the rest of the state up.
Almost every team in the state is in action this weekend and most of them are racing either here or at Third Battle. That will mean a lot of fast times and changed virtual meet rankings. OL and Kellam want them to change in their benefit.
Just like with the Blacksburg and CH dual, this is a battle between a team (Ocean Lakes) who has a star runner in Aniya Mosley way up front, and a team (Kellam) who relies on pack running and close finishing. This is going to be a fun dual to watch within this race.
VA #4 - Maggie Walker vs VA #20 - Western Albemarle
Another big state battle ahead this weekend is Western Albemarle versus Maggie Walker who just this season moved up to Class 3.
Though their rankings are quite different on paper, the reality is they are very close to one another. This weekend should be the first and only preview we get of both teams at full strength.
Maggie Walker continues the trend of having a star runner looking for those coveted low points in MC Heinen but also has a solid middle pack as well. Western on the other hand has a really strong 1-3 at a meet like this but struggles with their fourth and fifth.
The only real way to see how these two teams size up will be checking out the head-to-head matchup after the meet because States will have just 12 teams, a lot different than the 51 here.
VA #3 - Midlothian vs VA #2 - Blacksburg
Finally we arrive at a matchup that actually won't happen at States this year. Just like how Maggie Walker changed, Midlothian did as well. Midlo moved from Class 4 to Class 5 this year and with the addition of some great freshmen they are in contention for the Class 5 state team title.
This weekend though is not necessarily about facing Class 5 rivals but about running their best race of the season thus far and showing the state that they could also be the best in VA this year. One of those teams is Blacksburg from Class 4.
Coach Morgan's squad is strong but also very young. That could mean huge PR's this weekend or a nervous off-day. Remember though that an off-day for them is still quite fast though.
Entering the meet they are slated to finish 3rd but with just one big PR they could be fighting for the overall win.
Individually entered in this race are also contenders for nearly every state championship race this November.
Up front here we have a near dead-heat tie between Kaitlynn Wolfe (Class 4), Jette Davidson (Class 4), and Mary Caroline Heinen (Class 3) all seeded 18:05 to 18:06.
Just behind them and rounding out the top ten are Aniya Mosley (18:11), Maeve Stiles (18:13), Julia Ghiselli (18:16), Lindsey Hester (18:18), Audrey Link (18:21), Gabriella Garcia (18:29, and frosh Storrie Klynych-Irvin (18:29).
Normally in most elite girls' races there is a leader or two leaders who just gap the field early and never look back. That shouldn't be the case this weekend with some many athletes seeded right near each other.
Out of these girls, MC Heinen and Aniya Mosley are the most likely early leaders. Both have shown a desire to push the pace and that could be the case again this weekend.
There is really no great place to make some decisive move so you can expect this group of girls to remain connected at least thru the first 3K. After that things could separate slightly.
IF this race comes down to a sprint, MC and Aniya are going to be the ones to watch as both own some very quick PR's on the track.
Here are your top ranked individuals entering the weekend:
|1||Kaitlynn Wolfe||12||Blacksburg High School||18:05.10||1|
|2||Jette Davidson||12||E.C. Glass||18:06.50||2|
|3||Mary Caroline Heinen||12||Maggie Walker||18:06.60||3|
|4||Aniya Mosley||10||Ocean Lakes||18:11.30||4|
|5||Maeve Stiles||12||Maury High School||18:13.85||5|
|7||Lindsey Hester||11||James River (Midlothian)||18:18.20||7|
|8||Audrey Link||10||Blacksburg High School||18:21.60||8|
|9||Gabriella Garcia||10||Midlothian High School||18:29.40||9|
|10||Storrie Kulynych-Irvin||9||The Key School||18:30.7||--|
|11||Liza Neely||12||Douglas Freeman||18:30.71||10|
|12||Megan Marvin||12||Chapel Hill||18:33.7||11|
|13||Caroline Bowe||11||Midlothian High School||18:35.1||12|
|14||Abby Weber||10||Chapel Hill||18:37.80||13|
|15||Hope Frost||11||Stonebridge School||18:41.3||--|
|16||Sydney Runkle||11||Chapel Hill||18:41.60||14|
|17||Catherine Gregory||12||Forest Park||18:45.4||15|
|18||Kensey May||10||Parry McCluer||18:48.40||16|
|19||Zoe Edelman||11||Washington Latin Public Charter HS||18:57.00||--|
Just like in the girls' competition, this one looks to be favored in Chapel Hill's direction. They enter the weekend with a very strong 16:04 average ahead of Deep Run, Ocean Lakes, Blacksburg, and Lee-Davis who enter with averages ranging from 16:24.58 to 16:26.98.
This meet is going to be close for that second spot between these teams and pending a few PR's they could be fighting for the overall win as well.
This is one of the biggest previews of the year for the Class 5 craziness that will ensue in just a couple weeks between Deep Run, Glen Allen, L.C. Bird, Midlothian, Atlee, and others in the region 5B gauntlet. Lee-Davis, though local is now in Class 4.
Those head-to-head matchups are going to be the ones to watch as well as the matchup between Lee-Davis and their local rivals Deep Run and Glen Allen. This could be a statement win for the LD XC team over rivals who are constant powerhouses.
Just like the girls' race, this one will also featuring some very fast individuals with VA #4 and VA #5 entered. These two guys are defending champion and Foot Locker National Finalist Dan O'Brien and Colgan standout Bryce Lentz.
It may take a sub 15 to win this weekend.
Both of these guys have ran a very conservative race schedule thus far meaning they are primed and ready for a taper week and a big PR.
Dan enters the race on quite the hot streak and as the defending champion from last year when he became the first junior to take home the title.
16 guys enter the meet having run under 16 minutes, if the weather remains as predicted there could be twice as many guys under that barrier come Saturday.
|1||Bryce Lentz||11||Colgan High School||15:15.80||1|
|2||Daniel O'Brien||12||Virginia Episcopal School||15:18.00||2|
|3||Miles Mullins||11||Saint Christopher`s||15:32.80||3|
|4||Colby Burcham*||12||Deep Run||15:33.00||4|
|5||Alistair Bushey||12||Blacksburg High School||15:34.00||5|
|6||Luke Tewalt||12||Washington Latin Public Charter HS||15:35.00||6|
|8||Harrison Ladd||11||Ocean Lakes||15:43.00||8|
|9||Carter Morgan||12||Maggie Walker||15:51.40||9|
|10||Ben Neuwirth||12||Maggie Walker||15:52.70||10|
|11||Landon Dinkel||11||Blacksburg High School||15:53.90||11|
|12||Mason Love||11||Tandem Friends School||15:57.00||--|
|14||Dylan May||12||Parry McCluer||15:57.70||13|
|15||Owen Rogers||12||Chapel Hill||15:58.8||14|
|16||Wesley Bond||12||Landstown High School||15:59.78||15|