Ragged Mountain Cup Coverage


Western Albemarle's David Taylor pulls team up to second with fastest split of day - 10:09 


Albemarle junior Ryan Thomas anchors first place team with 10:21 leg

Albemarle's Allison Huscke (12:21) and STAB's Madison Hunter (12:27) push each other (along with some of the boys) to fastest splits on leadoff

Sub 13 splits from Fluvanna's Devon Burger (12:55) & Nicki Douma (12:53) make Flucos runners-up


With 130 kids on this year's cross country team, Albemarle was bound to find four good legs for their "A" relays for both boys and girls in Tuesday afternoon's Ragged Mountain Cup. The Albemarle boys and girls maintained bragging rights as the top team in the Charlottesville and Central Virginia area by sweeping the varsity 4x2 mile relay race for both genders.

The Albemarle boys graduated three of their top four runners from last year's Cup record setting team (41:25) in Adam Visokay, Ben Deal, and Chris Springer, but Coach Buz Male has managed to bring some of the other returning runners up to build around their star junior Ryan Thomas. Albemarle sophomore Zach Gentry was able to break away and close strong at the end of the first leg from a lead pack including Miller School's Elias Hubbard (10:42), Fluvanna's Chris Markham (10:50), Fork Union's Peter Lomong (11:03) to put the Patriots out into the lead with a 10:39 split on the 2 mile course at Panorama Farms. Second legs for Fork Union in senior Russ Garver (10:56 split) and Western Albemarle in freshmen Trevor Stutzman (11:03) were able to regain some lost ground on the Patriots with a 11:15 split from Albemarle's second leg Sam Gillespie, but Albemarle third leg Aaron Elder opened it back up again for his team and to hand off to 4:13 miler Ryan Thomas with a sizeable lead thanks to a sub 11 minute leg from Elder (10:54). Thomas looked very controlled from start to finish in his leg as he did not have to go deep into the well to bring home an Albemarle victory with a final overall time of 43:09.

The 10:21 split for Thomas was second fastest in the meet as Western Albemarle's David Taylor ended up having the top split of the meet at 10:09 as he had to chase down Fork Union's anchor to move his team up into second and then was able to close enough to get Thomas in distant sight on long straightaways of the course. The 2012 Group AA state indoor 1600 meter champion is an overlooked runner going into this season as far as state cross country title consideration with a returning Foot Locker finalist in Thomas Madden of Skyline and a two-time state track champion this past spring in Patrick Joseph of Loudoun County, but cannot sleep on Taylor as a darkhorse among a very stacked Region II of stars.

While the top two Central Virginia boys were not able to face off directly head to head to push each other with Thomas getting a large head start on Taylor, the top two returning cross country runners in the Charlottesville area wasted no time matching up on the first leg of the Ragged Mountain Cup relay between Albemarle's Allison Huscke and St. Anne's-Belfield School's Madison Hunter. Also having some "B" and "C" boys' relay runners around them to push them in the combined gender race, Huschke and Hunter both put down strong sub 12:30 times on a hilly 2 mile course layout at Panorama Farms. Hunter trailed just behind Huscke much of the race and it stayed that way into the finish with Huscke coming in as the first girl and a 12:21 split, while the talented freshmen Hunter was six seconds behind at 12:27. Injury for Huscke to miss the championship season of her 2011 cross country season, while two years ago she was a surprise All-State cross country 9th place finisher in the Group AAA race. She is looking to regain that form as she was just 10 seconds off her time from last year's Cup, but 10 seconds faster than her 2010 Cup time which was the season that she eventually became an All-State runner. Meanwhile, Hunter figures to be one of the private school's best for years to come as she finished 3rd last year as an 8th grader in the Virginia Independent Schools State Championships. Hunter was 34 seconds faster on Tuesday than her time from the open race (13:11) in last year's Ragged Mountain Cup, which bodes well for the rest of her cross country season.

After the first leg, the Albemarle girls were never really challenged as Western Albemarle had expected to be a threat to win, but got off to a poor start and never really recovered with their top runner Annie Taylor (13:14 split) running much further back in the field than she expected on anchor leg. Albemarle front loaded by puting their best two runners on the first two legs with Huscke and Ciera Ulan (13:15) to make it a simple job for third leg Mai Toms (14:04) and Lauren Truwit (13:27). The Albemarle girls had two other runners on their "B" team which ended up finishing third overall break 14 minutes on the 2 mile loop in Kristen Smith (13:30) and Emily Smith (13:34), which indicates their team has the depth to certainly compete for a state meet berth this fall out of the Northwest Region.

The Fluvanna girls took the opposite strategy and put their slowest leg on opening leg and let their top two runners go into chase mode to pull them from way behind into eventually second place. Fluvanna County sophomore Devon Burger made up a lot of ground on second leg with the fourth fastest split of the meet at 12:55 and then junior Nicki Douma again made another surge in places for her squad on anchor with the third fastest split overall at 12:53. Last fall, Fluvanna County ended Western Albemarle's long streak of Jefferson District  cross country team championships and it appears this fall that the Fluvanna girls want to begin their own streak with a repeat and title defense.   


Meet Coverage:

Results: Varsity Relay Team Results - Varsity Relay Individual Splits - Open Race

Race Videos: Leg 1 - Leg 2 & 3 - Leg 4 - Open Race

Video Interviews: Ryan Thomas (Albemarle) - David Taylor (Western Albemarle)

Photo Gallery by Brandon Miles - Few highlight shots posted. More photos to be added on Wednesday.

The Daily Progress - Cross Country Preview

Virtual Meet Preview (5K distance - XC tradtional meet scored): Boys - Girls