For Herndon High's Gillian Bushee', running has become a very lonely sport, as evidenced by last weekend's coast-to-coast victories in the Class 6 1600 and 3200-meter runs.
There is something different about watching Bushee' compete this year. Last year, the Hornet senior was surrounded by some of the state's toughest competition, all within her team's Liberty District. A simple intra-district meet held the potential to create state best times at the longer distances. At any given meet, Bushee' could look across the starting line to find Yorktown star Anna Macon Corcoran, McLean state cross-country champion Thais Rolly, or a variety of Langley middle distance aces, headed by Lila Waters.
Corcoran has moved on to Duke, and will be followed to Durham by Rolly next year. Unfortunately, Rolly, who placed 23rd at the Cross-Country Nationals last November, has been nursing a stress fracture and has been out of commission this season.
Waters still remains, but the rivalry has not been quite as powerful as when the current 1600-meter state record holder Kate Murphy of Lake Braddock had Patriot's Rachel McArthur to duel with all season.
At the Class 6 meet, the missing competitors probably cost Bushee' a shot at Murphy's record. She defeated Waters by eight seconds in the 1600, but fell just.05 seconds short of Murphy's standard with a time of 4:51.35. Two hours later, she would dominate the 3200, winning by 25 seconds.
And the closest runner to the UVA commit wasn't even a real person. Said the victor to The Washington Post, "I just tried to hit my splits and do what I was supposed to do. On the last laps, I told myself there was a runner right behind me: 'You can't see her, but she can see you. When you think like that, it forces you to keep up your pace." She admitted to refusing to look at the scoreboard, as she would have learned that she was indeed alone.
An unfamiliar team found its way to the team podium won at last weekend's Class 6 VHSL State Championships, held at the Virginia Beach Sports Center.
For the girls', Grassfield of Chesapeake won its first-ever indoor state championship. While the boys' have claimed an outdoor title, and enjoyed individual success with Grant Holloway and a number of throwers, the Grizzlies women have come close with runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2017, but could never overcome the recent record of dominance from its city rival Western Branch.
Grassfield relied on its power, tallying 18 of its 50.5 point total in the shotput. Morgan Graham won the event with a toss of 42-5.75, with teammates Tiki Kazeem (fourth - 38-4.25) and Kaitlyn Bullock (sixth - 37-7) combining for the other eight.