One of the best parts of high school XC and why it is way better than college XC is the rotation of athletes in and out. Sometimes you know what you're getting and other times athletes and times come of out of nowhere. Here we preview some of the athletes you should watch Saturday both as freshman upstarts and as tenured seniors.
Freshmen To Watch
Sadie Adams (Western Albemarle - Class 4)
Sadie enters the meet as the regional champion and ranked third overall in Class 4 with her 17:50 best. She is not only looking for an all-state finish but looking for the win as well. She is used to the hills and has only been improving meet after meet.
Brady Brennan (Brook Point - Class 5)
Brady enters the meet with a very solid PR of 16:04 and is ranked 7th in Class 5. He was the region 5D champion but the impressive note here is that he took down the #1 ranked Class 5 runner en route to that victory. We know this is a liberal interpretation of the transitive property but that makes him a contender in our book.
Gregory Poisson (Abingdon - Class 3)
Gregory is currently the most important number on his team, the 5th runner. His 17:07 best is solid but what makes him someone to watch is Abingdon's strong team this year. They are fighting to win the state team title but also could be one of, if not the, best teams in the state and how well they do is directly correlated to how Poisson does Saturday.
Alexis Plaster (Jefferson Forest - Class 4)
Another athlete fighting for a team title is Alexis Plaster who has run 19:27 this season. She will be trying to help JF end a nice run by Loudoun Valley in the team race. Her performance is integral to them playing spoiler once again.
Aleah Dorn (Abingdon - Class 3)
Aleah has run 19:37 so far this season and finished 4th at Region 3D, one of the toughest in the state. She is on pace to have a very strong state meet and potentially an all-state finish as a freshman!
Abigail Rhudy (Tazewell - Class 2)
Entering the state meet Rhudy owns a very strong personal best of 19:39 but unfortunately for her she is going up against arguably the best in the state, Carly Wilkes. Rhudy is the Region 2D champion and in most years would be a strong favorite. This year though she gets to just run her race and chase a time which means we could see a monster performance out of her this Saturday.
Seniors To Watch
Isaac Thiessen (Abingdon - Class 3)
Thiessen enters the weekend ranked #1 in Class 3 with his 15:26 best on the season. He is also the leader of his team and was most recently the Region 3D champ. What is most intriguing though is that he is attempting to follow in his older (Karl Thiessen) brother's footsteps and take home the state title. This storyline is enough to watch but what makes it just that much better is the fact that Abingdon is going for the team title as well.
Xavier Jemison (McLean - Class 6)
Xavier owns a season best of 15:29 and is seriously one of the best and fastest out there today. Her is a low-four minute miler and state champion as well. That makes for a deadly combination if the race is close. Some could argue he is the favorite and you could argue he is trying to pull off an upset. Whichever way you dice it up though he is a contender and could produce a photo finish with his kick.
Caroline Bauer (Jamestown - Class 4)
The Jamestown senior is VA #3 overall and Class 4 #1 this season with her 17:27 best. She was 3rd a year ago and is looking to better that. Of course though, she is in Class 4 and that is without a doubt the hardest classification in the state with Ava Gordon, Ali Crytser, Sadie Adams, and many more. It is not only hard to win but it is hard to crack the top five in this classification. Bauer has a goal and watching her chase that against some great competition is going to be exciting.
Aniya Mosley (Ocean Lakes - Class 6)
This is a weird year where the VA Beach athletes could not travel. For some athletes that would mean not being pushed but that is not the case for Mosley and Ocean Lakes who are pushing themselves to a team title hopefully. Mosley leads the team and was Region 6A's champion. She is also probably the only undefeated VA athlete (5/5) entering the state meet. This season's rankings mean nothing for her though as she actually owns a personal best of 17:29.
Blake Fairbanks (Riverbend - Class 5)
Blake has improved year over year and with a best of 15:38 he is positioning himself well heading into the state meet. He has run best this season in the big meets and currently is the fastest Class 5 runner on paper. If he runs his best race of the year he could very well be the first one across the line.
This duo from Patrick Henry has been training together since day one of their freshmen years. Together they went 1-2 at Region 4B and have some of the fastest times in Class 4. Trevor leads the duo with his 15:27 best and Luke is right behind at 15:32. Trevor was the regional champ and Luke has been a state champion in track. This makes for an exciting duo that could work together to take down Mussmon who leads the Class 4 rankings.