The Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Cross Country Championships took place on the challenging Woodberry Forest course on Thursday. Adding to the difficult course, a short-lived heat wave opened up in the middle of the Division 2 races and created an unexpected challenge that certainly had in impact on the races. It was a day with prior champions performing living up to their expectations, with a few surprises and a few new names to keep an eye on going in to next season
Division 1 Boys
The Potomac boys lived up to pre-meet expectations claiming their second straight state title. It was a complete team affair, as their top 5 runners surged ahead during the second mile without a response from their counterparts in the Division 1 field. Potomac was led by Sasha Minsky who finished 2nd overall. Each their top five runners earned all-state honors. The ever-present boys from St. John Paul secured the runner-up spot led by third place finisher James Bertram
The individual race was won by super sophomore Quinn Eliason from St. Annes Belfield. Eliason turned in the fastest time of the day which added to number of blistering late season performances. With today's effort, Eliason has the potential to be the new king of the VISAA rankings for the next few years.
Division 1 Girls
With the total team package, the girls from the Collegiate school secured their third straight state title led by Virginia Harris , Rosie Ferrel, and Bridget Blaszak, who came in 2nd, 3rd and 7th respectively. With four freshmen in their top 5, Collegiate looks like they will be the powerhouse for the next few years in the Division 1 girls field. The Potomac School girls claimed the runner up spot led by senior Audrey Rentzepis coming in 4th place overall.
Individually, the perennial Molly Weithman of Bishop O'Connell capped off her fabulous high school career with a dominant win. She claimed her second straight VISAA title by finishing nearly a minute ahead of Virginia Harris from Collegiate.
Division 2 Boys
The heat of the day ratcheted up for what turned out to be the most exciting team race of the day--the rematch between two-time champion Trinity Christian and last year's runner up North Cross School. In a flip of last year's script, North Cross edged out their cross-state rivals by a mere 4 points, led by their top 3 runners Alex Dickenson , Dylan White, and Finton Chaney who came in 3rd, 5th and 6th respectively. North Cross, Trinity, and 3rd place Covenant gobbled up all state honors by winning 16 of the 20 all-state recognitions.
Individually, the sophomore sensation Jon Nathan Lawrence of Covenant surged away after the first mile from last year's champ Calvin Dovgalyuk of Trinity to claim his first individual championship. Lawrence finished with a blistering time of 16:36 and looks like he will be a force for the next few years in D2.
Division 2 Girls
As expected, the Covenant girls ably performed in the heat and became back-to-back champions by taking the girls team race, with Reese Dalton and Maddie Gardener finishing off their stellar VISAA careers in their familiar positions. Sophomore Savannah Wood added to the dominance coming in with a sensational third place finish. They were easily able to hold off the girls from Veritas who consistently turn out strong performances year after year.
The individual talents of Dalton and Gardener have left of legacy of excellence for both their school and VISAA cross country and have raised the bar for the next generations. Those are monster-sized shoes to fill. It will be interesting to see who fills them, as this race will certainly be more open next year.
Division 3 Boys
For years, the Tandem Friends boys have put out strong performances at the VISAA championships, but frequently were just one fast runner shy of getting to the podium. Today the Tandem program destroyed that narrative as they put together a total team surge to blow up the field in the D3 race. The Tandem boys took five of the top twelve spots and left no doubt who the new D3 powerhouse is. Tandem was led by Charlie Kalnite who took the top spot in the team points and finished second overall.
Individually, the senior Bryson Barnett from Chelsea Academy impressively held off the field by over 30 seconds for solid win with a blistering time of 16:43. He finished ahead of Kalnite and Curtis Leachman from Wakefield School who took the two and three spots.
Division 3 girls
The girls Division 3 race seemed up for grabs after the first half of the race, but eventually the Stone Bridge girls emerged as the clear winners and claimed a second state title for themselves. Stone Bridge was led by their star freshman Josie Nunziata who came in second overall. Both Stone Bridge and surprise runner-up Roanoke Catholic earned all-state honors for all five of their top runners.
Kerrigan Chaney of North Cross once again left no doubt regarding who reigns supreme in Division 3. Chaney already had a minute on the field at the one-mile mark and the lead grew to over 90 seconds by the finish. Chaney is now back-to-back VISAA champion with two crushing performances.