Despite running without top runner Nick Link and Matthew Paiser along with last week's Clash with the Titans winner Luke Phillips, Blacksburg boys still found themselves at the top of the team standings at the Blue Demon Invitational on Saturday. The #1 ranked team in Virginia, Blacksburg beat VA #4 ranked James Robinson (2nd, 54) and VA #12 ranked Christiansburg (3rd, 84 pts) with a team score of 43 points. Noah Combs, an All-State 3200 meter runner for Blacksburg last year as a freshmen, opened up his season after skipping the Clash with the Titans by winning the Blue Demon Invite with a time of 16:18. Combs finished 14 seconds ahead of the runner-up, which was defending Group A state champion Walker Mogen of Radford. Even while missing three of their top five runners, Blacksburg put four runners inside the top 11 with Combs, Matthew Borny (5th, 17:02), Kenneth Hagen (10th, 17:34), and Nick Wilson (11th, 17:35).
James Robinson made the long trip from Fairfax County to Christiansburg to compete for the first time at the Blue Demon Invitational. Their head coach Kim Cofield (formerly Kim Milbourn) has connections to the area as a former runner at Virginia Tech. 1:55 800 meter runner Nathan Schulte led the Rams with a fourth place finishing effort of 16:39, while the remaining top 7 for James Robinson finished all within the top 20, but over a minute separated Schutle and the team's #3 finisher Nick Marshall (13th, 17:40). They will need to improve that gap to be state meet podium contending team in Group AAA with their current Group AAA #3 pre-season ranking.
Christiansburg boys were third for the consecutive straight week in invitational competition. Returning Group AA All-State cross country finisher Zach Chase led the home squad with a third place showing of 16:36, but an off day from their usual #2 Matt Spurlock (27th, 18:15) kept them from seriously challenging the VA #4 ranked James Robinson for second place.
In the varsity girls' race, James Robinson junior Macey Schweikert tied the Blue Demon Invitational meet record with a runaway victory of 18:59. At the 2010 Blue Demon Invite, Hannah Brown of Blacksburg also won in a time of 18:59. A 5K PR of 18:01, Saturday's race was an impressive season opening run on the hills of Christiansburg for the VA #14 ranked Schweikert. She is clearly fit and ready to roll out a time in the 17 minute range at Burke Lake Park next week for the Monroe Parker Invitational. The Robinson girls went 1-2 in the race as trailing 43 seconds later after Schweikert was her teammate in sophomore Lauren Berman with a time of 19:42. Berman had a great freshmen year including qualifying for state competition in the 3200 meter run outdoors with a PR time of 11:17 at the Northern Region Meet.
The Blacksburg girls sat out the majority of their varsity runners this past week including sophomore Bonnie Angermeier, who pulled off a shocking win at the Clash with the Titans last weekend against defending Group AA state champion Carolyn Bethel of Hidden Valley. Nonetheless, the Lady Bruins still had representation in the top 10 with Jennifer Fleming (3rd, 20:10), Rachel McCoy (4th, 20:16), and Olivia Hodge (9th, 20:55) but finished third as a very short-handed squad. As a result, the Group AA #2 ranked Christiansburg girls took advantage to win the team title on their home course with 62 points to hold off a front-loaded James Robinson squad (2nd, 66 pts), Group AA #1 ranked Blacksburg (3rd, 71 pts), and Group AAA #3 ranked Jefferson Forest (4th, 73 pts). Christiansburg had three girls in the top 8 with Megan Burns (5th, 20:23), Allison Sherman (6th, 20:23), and Mikayla Richardson (8th, 20:54). While Blacksburg will be tough to beat at full strength, the Christiansburg girls definitely have to feel about their chances of being a state runner-up squad this fall after being the Region III champions Jefferson Forest for the second straight week.
Blue Demon Invitational Results: