Though we at MileStat love the MileStat.com XC Invitational, there is no denying that Third Battle is second to none. This meet annually pulls the best talent from Virginia and neighboring states as the athletes chase a PR on one of the two fastest courses in Virginia.
If you want to get technical, this is VA's fastest 5K course with both state records having been run on it. That was Weini Kelati's 16:29 and Drew Hunter's 14:20. No course probably in the United States has two PR's that fast for both genders.
Though we may not expect a state record out of this weekend, we are expecting the entire state leaderboard to be rewritten and to see how fast some of these teams are ready to go as the post-season approaches.
Up first will be the girls varsity race featuring state champion Ava Gordon, state champion Thais Rolly, state champion Gillian Bushee, state runner-up Ava Bordner, and five-time all-state finisher Madison Murphy amongst others.
Leading the way on paper is Ava Gordon but she is still coming back into form while others such as Rolly and Bushee have run very solid times this fall. Most recently it was Rolly edging Bushee for the win at Glory Days just last week.
The weather for this weekend looks solid and pending nothing crazy, we expect this race to go out conservatively. Though quite a few girls are chasing a sub 18 mark here, they will try and do it on the back half.
From that point it will be a tactful use of energy. Gordon will likely start to push the pace and ultimately it will come down to her fitness at this point in the season. She is without a doubt, the best runner in the field, but it is not about pedigree and more so about racing. That should make it a very interesting race to the finish where we ultimately see three girls breaking 18 this weekend.
Team wise Loudoun Valley looks favored with West Springfield close behind them.
On the boys side of things it looks the same on the team front with Loudoun Valley and West Springfield. Here though, the Vikings of Loudoun Valley are favored strongly over the Spartans.
Individually it should be an interesting battle as well.
All of these guys are very familiar with the course and racing. We'd expect this race to be an upfront battle from the gun where guys are jockeying for position early on and holding on to the finish. Our pre-race favorites are Woshner and Mussmon but a lot can change between now and then.