The VISAA state championships were back at Woodberry Forest School for the first time since 2016 and the notoriously difficult and hilly course slowed times down from last year, but produced some astounding efforts. The added dimension to this year's championship was a third division which allowed some of the smaller independent schools a chance to shine. The races allowed some of the established talent from around the state to make a strong showing, and some up and coming runners to establish themselves on the state-wide stage.
Boys Division 1
The headliner in the boys D1 race was Potomac School's Charlie Ortmans. There was no doubt about who would win; the only question in the air was whether or not Charlie had a shot at Alan Webb's course record of 15:19. Ortmans delivered with his expected dominance. After pulling through his first mile in 4:49, Ortmans surged away from the rest of the field and ran a solo effort the rest of the way. He finished in a blistering 15:43, short of Webb's time; but nonetheless a great time considering the course typically adds over a minute to a runner's personal best. Collegiate's Stan Craig finished in second, coming in under the 16 minute mark as well, with a strong time of 15:56.
Ortmans effort, combined with teammate Sasha Minsky's 4th place finish, and a huge push by the other Potomac boys allowed them to defeat runner-up St. Christophers, who was led by 6th place overall finisher Asher Green. This was Potomac's first ever state championship despite having a number of individual champions over the years.
Boys Division 2
Next up was the boys division 2 race which featured a long-awaited showdown between last year's Division 2 champions Trinity Christian of Fairfax and North Cross School of Roanoke. These two teams have both had great seasons, knocking off much larger schools at their respective invitationals and have been eyeing each other from across the state all season. In a narrow victory Trinity held off North Cross for a narrow 6 point victory. The two schools gobbled up the all-state honors taking eleven out of the top 20 spots.
Trinity was led by super sophomore Calvin Dovgalyuk who took the top spot. Dovgalyuk's strategy of covering his opponents moves until the last mile proved to be successful as he had enough left in his legs to pull away from Billy Driscoll of Peninsula Catholic and Kyle Thompson of North Cross with a winning time of 17:12.
Boys Division 3
The first ever boys division 3 race was a fight between Walsingham Academy, perennial powerhouse Veritas School, and Stonebridge School led by top seeded runner Tate Frost. Walsingham was the favorite coming in and they lived up to expectations. They were able to convincingly take down Veritas who narrowly beat out Stonebridge for the runner-up spot. This is Walsingham's first ever cross country championship and long time Walsingham coach Rich Higgins was elated. Higgins said, "We knew we had a fight on our hands today, but we came through in a big way, with six of our runners finishing in the top 20."
As expected, the race winner was Tate Frost of Stone Bridge who ran a sizzling time of 16:52. Frost was able to hold off Bryson Barnett of Chelsea Academy who came in at 17:01. Frost, who came in at peak form commented, " I came in with the fastest seed time, but I was unsure of the competition I would be up against. I surged way from him (Barnett) at the halfway point and was able to stay away at that point."
Girls Division 1
In the Girls Division 1 race, last years champs Collegiate came in once again as the favorites and they were able to fend off a strong showing from Norfolk Academy and The Potomac School to claim their second straight VISAA championship. Collegiate was once again led by MK Myers who finished with a strong time of 20:21.
The race was won by Molly Weithman of Bishop O'Connell who continues to churn out strong performances. She finished all alone with a time of 19:17. She was able to pull away from runner-up Anne Earp from Norfolk Academy with 800 meters left and finished without further challenge.
Girls Division 2
The girls division 2 race was headlined by the junior duo of Maddie Gardiner and Reese Dalton from The Covenant School. In spite of this fast pair being at the top of every state meet race they have run the past few years, a state championship for this Covenant team has been elusive, particularly due to the consistent strength of the Veritas girls program. However, today the entire squad of Covenant girls delivered strong performances and earned Covenant its first state title since 2016. They were able to overcome the Veritas girls by a mere 13 points.
Coach Anne Dunn wanted to commend her entire team for their victory. "All our runners competed so hard, and came through when we needed them to. My third, fourth, and fifth girls gave their best effort of the season."
The race was won by Maddie Gardiner who was able to break free from Dalton at the 2 mile mark and lead her team to the win.
Girls Division 3
The new girls division 3 featured the most dominant race of the day. Kerrigan Chaney of North Cross is an emerging superstar who has won all her races this season. She kept that streak going with the fastest girls time for all three divisions with a scalding 18:45 on the tough Woodberry course. She broke free from the field at the first turn and never looked back. She finished an entire minute and 41 seconds ahead of runner-up Josie Nunziata of Stonebridge School who finished in 20:26.
The girls team competition was won by Stonebridge in an easy win over second place Roanoke Catholic. Stonebridge finished with 4 runners earning all-state honors to claim their first ever State Championship.