Chapa and J.R. Tucker: State title runs through us!

THE PLAINS, VA -- Michael Chapa and the J.R. Tucker made a opening statement to rest of their foes in Group AAA this fall. The state title runs through them. Chapa and his fellow Tigers manhandled the competition at the Great Meadows Invitational this past weekend.

At Great Meadows, the Sudanese import Chapa faced off in an early season showdown with two of his biggest challengers for the individual state crown this fall in Forest Park\'s Bryce Iverson and E.C. Glass\' Patterson Wilhelm. Chapa scorched an early pace from the onset (4:41 through 1 mile, 9:40s through 2 miles) and left the two runners as well as the rest of the field behind to win in a sensational time of 15:43.91.

Iverson, still had a strong first race of the season, as he took runner-up honors to Chapa in a time of 16:05.26. Meanwhile, Patterson came away with a poor start to his junior year with a 10th place finishing time of 17:06.64.

There is no disputing the fact that J.R. Tucker possesses the best top four in the entire state of Virginia this fall. Behind Chapa, Mason McElroy (4th, 16:17.75), Thuom Mathaing (5th, 16:35.59), and Ben Rickey (7th, 16:52.30) gave J.R. Tucker four runners in the top 10. However, what should be a major concern for the Tigers\' state title hopes is how will their fifth runner, 800 meter specialist Tanner Seese improves along this fall. Seese finished 44th in the race on Saturday with a time of 18:11.25. No matter how good Tucker\'s top four runners are, if their number five runner is that far back at Great Meadows in November, the Tigers will walk away without the state title trophy. Fortunately, they were able to come away with the win at Great Meadows this Saturday with a team total of 61 points.

Showing a much tighter top five pack than J.R. Tucker was Central Region foe Douglas Freeman as they were led by a third place finish by Richard Andrews in a time of 16:08.92. The Rebels had their entire top five within the first 30 places as Cabell Rosanelli (12th, 17:12.10), Stephen Cox (18th, 17:33.99), Andrew Pike (25th, 17:50.02), and David Newsome (27th, 17:53.95) were all able to dip under 18 minutes on the Great Meadows course. Douglas Freeman accumulated a team total of 85 points. If Douglas Freeman\'s pack continues to move up J.R. Tucker\'s four studs, they could pose a serious threat for the Tigers.

Finishing third in the boys\' team standings were the Brentsville Tigers with a team total of 116 points as this squad seems poised to go after their first AA state crown this fall in only their second year at the classification level. The Tigers ran without the services of their top runner and AA #1 ranked Pat Eggleston, so the squad was led by Nick Gehlsen with his eighth place finishing time of 16:58.07. Brentsville\'s next four finishers were Henry Melius (16th, 17:25.72), Adam Henken (22nd, 17:42.07), Jacob Watts (32nd, 17:57.19), and Eric Ekholm (38th, 18:04.73).

The girls\' race was a bit more exciting and dramatic for the individual title. Forest Park\'s Stefanie Slekis was able to take the victory in a time of 19:16.16 over Becky Stewart of Brentsville (2nd, 19:18.55) and Christy Ward of James River (3rd, 19:23.99) who finished not too far behind Slekis.

The Douglas Freeman girls won the team battle over runner-up Colonial Forge (82 pts). With a team total of 70 points, Douglas Freeman was able to fit four runners in the top 20 places with Meagan Montgomery (8th, 20:35.45), Christi Harsha (10th, 20:45.85), Megan Machich (15th, 21:10.37), and Meredith Cox (20th, 21:26.29). The fifth runner to cross the line and seal the team win for Douglas Freeman was Jenny Duty with a 42nd place finish (22:47.72).

The Colonial Forge girls were led to the line by freshmen Kaylan Comer as she continued her impressive rookie season of cross country with a 4th place finishing performance of 20:09.24. Also finishing in the top 25 for the Eagles were Molly Hawkins (7th, 20:29.10), K.C. Wade (18th, 21:15.55), and Molly LeBlanc (22nd, 21:35.79). Rounding out the Colonial Forge top five was Amy Yocum with a 31st place finish (21:52.94).