Two-time boys' state champion Alex Tatu has now graduated from Thomas Dale High School and will attend the University of Virginia in the fall. With Tatu's departure, the door is open for a handful of individuals who showed this past year that they have what it takes to cross the line first in November at Great Meadows.
One of those handful of individuals is Green Run's Steven Walters. Walters, a rising senior, took runner-up honors (16:09.84) to Tatu in last November's state race and returns this year as the top returnee. At Foot Locker South last fall, Walters clocked a time of 15:37.82, which is the second fastest returning 5K time out of any Virginian. Walters had a strong track season where he clocked personal bests in the 1600 (4:17.04) and 3200 (9:12.99c) meter runs as well as earning all-state honors in the 3200 meter run outdoors.
The runner who ranks ahead of him with the fastest returning 5K time is Thomas Jefferson's Christo Landry. Landry earned his first state title last fall with his team, but has a shot this year to earn a state title individually as well. A rising senior, Landry finished behind Walters at last year's state race (16:18.20), but then went onto top Walters in the Foot Locker South race with his time of 15:32.98 to earn All-South honors. Landry was a state runner-up to graduated teammate Keith Bechtol in the 3200 meter run indoors and earned all-state honors in the 1600 meter run outdoors. Landry returns not only with the fastest 5K in the state, but as well as the fastest 3200 meter run (9:09.88c, Southern Track Classic).
Not far behind Walters and Landry in both the state meet and Foot Locker South race was Albemarle's Hari Mix. Mix earned all-state honors (16:27.02) despite an off-race at states, but then finished his season strong with a personal best time of 15:39.54 (third fastest returning 5K time). Mix was really unproven as a track runner prior to this past spring, where he showed his significant improvement as a distance runner by posting personal bests in the 1600 (4:22.06) and 3200 (9:13.35c) meter runs and earning all-state honors in the 3200 meter run outdoors. Mix also competed in the 5000 meter run at USA Junior Nationals and finished twelfth with a new personal best time of 15:12.
One athlete who faltered at the end of last year's cross country season, but during the regular season, showed all signs that he is one of the best cross country runners in the state was Denbigh rising junior Derrick Robbins. Robbins had many strong winning and runner-up performances at major invitationals last fall including a runner-up finish to Foot Locker All-American Kippy Keino of Fork Union at the William & Mary Invitational. In the same race, Robbins defeated eventual state champion Tatu. However after running a season best time of 15:45 at the Peninsula District Meet, Robbins season went downhill after then with a seventh place finish at the Eastern Region Meet (16:48) and a fourteenth place finish at states (16:32.55). If Robbins can close his junior year of cross country like he opened his sophomore year, he will be one tough contender to defeat. During the track season, Robbins was a state runner-up in the 1600 meter run indoors and earned all-state honors in the 1000 meter run indoors and 1600 meter run outdoors.
Barring any significant breakthroughs from other AAA runners, the previously mentioned four in Walters, Landry, Mix, and Robbins should be the four favored with the best chances to win this year's state individual crown for AAA boys. However, there is more than a handful of runners behind him that show the potential of moving up to the next level.
Last year's most improved cross country runner was West Springfield's Steve Tobin. Tobin went from being a virtually unknown runner even in his own region to becoming one of the finest cross country runners in the state. Tobin's best race by far was at the state meet where he garnered a seventh place finish (16:21.61). He returns as the third fastest returnee from that race behind Walters and Landry and ahead of the likes of Mix and Robbins.
Midlothian has a pair of runners who should crack well into the top fifteen all-state in this year's state meet race. One of the two Trojans, rising senior Ryan Witt, already knows what it is like to be on the podium as he earned all-state honors last year with a thirteenth place finish (16:31.87). Witt is fifth fastest returnee from last year's state race. Witt also earned all-state honors indoors in the 1600 meter run and posted a personal best of 4:19.09 in the 1600 meter run outdoors.
Fellow rising senior at Midlothian, Billy Berlin had a breakthrough track season comparable to the breakthrough that occurred to Tobin during the fall in cross country. Berlin, who during his sophomore year was running over twenty-one minutes for the 5K, over five minutes in the mile, and 2:10 in the 800 meter run, saw a complete transformation in his running junior year. To the surprise of many including himself, Berlin earned all-state honors in the 1600 meter run indoors and 3200 meter run outdoors. His season bests of 4:24.09 in the 1600 meter run and 9:29.80 in the 3200 meter run were astonishing considering he could barely hold his 1600 pace for 800 meters the year before and his 3200 meter pace was over twenty seconds faster than the pace he could hold for a mile in the prior year. Berlin did show a flash of what may be in stored for this cross country season when he ran a personal best 5K of 16:31.98 at Foot Locker South last November.
Like Berlin, another runner who really was unimpressive during cross country last fall, but then really turned it on in the eight lapper this past outdoor season was Forest Park's Bryce Iverson. Iverson, who only posted a meager best of 16:47.88 in the 5K last fall, was probably the only athlete at this year's AAA outdoor track state meet to run a personal best time in the 3200 meter run as his time of 9:34.81 earned him all-state honors as he fought through fierce winds and a slow first mile. If Iverson can continue the success from the outdoor state meet to the grass and hills of cross country this fall, he may quickly move up the ranks in AAA.
Following the same pattern as Berlin and Iverson, Thomas Jefferson rising senior Chris Mocko saw himself emerge as one of the state's top distance runners during the track season. Mocko is the twelveth returnee (16:56.01) from last year's state meet, but judging off of his performances during the track season, his stock has surely rose a few positions. Mocko earned all-state honors twice in the 3200 meter run as he took the honors for both his indoor and outdoor state meet races. Mocko's 3200 meter best of 9:32.14 indicates he can go much faster in the 5K than his current best, his state meet time. Teamed up with Landry, Mocko and his fellow teammate will be vying with Midlothian's Witt and Berlin as the two top one-two punches in the state.
Along with Landry, Tobin, and Mocko, another Northern Region runner who could make waves at this year's state meet is Oakton's Kris Cruz. Cruz has the fifth fastest returning 5K time (15:56.79) out of AAA runners and is the ninth fastest returnee from last year's state meet race (16:41.32). The rising senior from Oakton earned all-state honors in the 1600 meter run indoors and has a personal best time of 4:21.04 in the event.
As only a freshmen last fall, J.R. Tucker's Michael Chapa just missed out on earning all-state honors with a sixteenth place finish in last year's AAA race (16:37.14). Chapa, who moved to America last year from Somalia, has the most natural talent compared to any of the other contenders this year. Chapa, who played basketball during the winter and soccer during the spring, stepped on the track for the Colonial District outdoor track meet this past spring with only a few dual meet races and only a meager amount of running under his belt. Despite having not seriously trained since the fall, Chapa won the race with an approximate time of 9:45, but was disqualified shortly after the race for having stepped inside the line on the final lap. Despite having his season ended on the call, the race still showed how much of a talent he is. This fall, if Chapa wants it enough, his talent complemented with some serious training, may take him to the top in Virginia high school running.
As our state loses great runners every year due to graduation, every year the future's stars come out of the woodworks with some young freshmen runners who impact the state scene immediately. Chapa was not the only freshmen making noise this past year. While Chapa was competing in other sports during track season, Chantilly's Brad Siragusa was quickly becoming not only the top freshmen in the state, but one of the best in the nation. No one really took much notice of Siragusa during cross country as he did not even make it out of his regional meet, but during the track season he came alive as a runner. During indoors, Siragusa broke under 4:40 for the 1600 meter run and ten minutes for the 3200 meter run numerous times. He capped his strong winter season of racing by winning the national title in the freshmen mile at the Nike Indoor Championships with a personal best time of 4:27.38. Siragusa would continue to drop his times during the spring as he clocked a 9:36.14 3200 meter run at the Dogwood Track Classic and a 4:21.28 1600 meter run at the Northern Region Meet. Siragusa just missed all-state honors outdoors in the 1600 meter run with a ninth place finish in the event.
As the Thomas Jefferson boys' cross country team returns this fall to defend their state title, they come back with a lineup that took a few losses due to graduation. However, Coach Matt Ryan's squad also has a core group of runners returning to make another strong bid for a state title. Leading the way is Landry, who will be gunning for his first individual state title. Mocko is another runner for Thomas Jefferson who likely finish in top ten at the state meet based off of his recent track performances. There is no question that the team's top two runners will give them the support and leadership they need for their run. It is the performances of the next three runners who will fill Thomas Jefferson's remaining top five that will be key to their success. Returning from last year's state champion top seven are Kyle Smith (17:09.94) and David Price (17:25.91). Smith (4:38.95 1600m, 9:53.42 3200m) is the nineteenth fastest returnee and Price (4:32.22 1600m, 10:03.76 3200m) is the thirteenth fastest returnee from last year's state meet race. They will be counted onto to move up from these positions to help secure Thomas Jefferson another state title. After having solid outdoor track seasons, Phil Sukys (10:02.65), Brian Jacokas (10:06.02 3200m), and Jon McConnell (10:08.15 3200m) will be counted on to help fill the holes left by the graduations of Keith Bechtol, Brian Hanak, and Tarik Jones.
Midlothian, who finished second to Thomas Jefferson by eight points in last year's state race, took the same number of three losses to graduation as did Thomas Jefferson. Like Thomas Jefferson, they return one of the best top two's in the state with Witt and Berlin. What will decide whether or not Midlothian can give Thomas Jefferson another challenge this fall is how much improvement they can get out of the other returnees from last year's group. Ryan Call, is the twenty-fifth fastest returnee from last year's state race (17:18.40) and boasts solid track bests (2:00.75 800m, 4:40 1600m, 10:21.55 3200m). Younger sibling to Ryan Witt, Kurt Witt (10:12.75 3200m) and Pat Harding (10:29 3200m) figure to make up the bottom half of Midlothian's top five with Call.
Maggie Walker, a state champion squad two years ago, returns six of their top seven runners from last year's sixth place finishing state meet squad as they are led by two solid runners in Daniel Howard (eight fastest state meet returnee) and Andrew Stegmaier (eleventh fastest state meet returnee). Coach Holdren will be hoping that Rohan Patel (4:30.91 1600m) will continue his vast improvements on the track this past year onto the cross country course this fall. Rising junior Brandon Herzog, who has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency, will be counted on to avoid both "I" words this fall as the 1:55 800 meter run has also ran a 16:42 5K before.
Lake Braddock took a fourth place finish last year in the state meet race and could possibly improve upon that place with the group of runners the Bruins have returning. Rising senior Danny Howick leads the way for the Bruins as he comes in this season with a 5K personal best of 16:12.25 (Foot Locker South) as well as some solid track times of 4:19.46 in the 1600 meter run and 9:42.51. With Howick, the Bruins have a front runner that can place well into the top fifteen at the state meet. Backing up Howick is Anthony Internicola, who is the twenty-third fastest returnee (17:15.51) from last year's state meet race, and Brad Clark (9:53.95 3200m). Scott Gordon (17:34.23 states) and Jason Lex (17:54.46 states) also return from last year's state meet team to give Lake Braddock plenty of experience for this year's state run.
Douglas Freeman was the odd team out of last year's Central Region Meet as they finished fifth with a team that could have placed well at the state meet. This year's team returns with only one loss from last year and expects to advance to the state meet this year and perform well there. Richard Andrews leads the Rebels as Andrews is coming off a spectacular sophomore year of racing. Andrews is the fourteenth fastest returnee (17:01.49) from last year's state meet race and has personal best time of 16:40 for the 5K. During outdoor track season, Andrews put up some stellar times including a 4:26 1600 meter run and 9:43 3200 meter run. Andrews certainly will be in contention to earn all-state honors individually this fall. Matt Carlton is another legit sub seventeen minute 5K runner for Freeman as he ran a personal best of 16:41 at the Colonial District Meet last fall. While Cabell Rosanelli was never able to venture under seventeen minutes last fall in cross country, he should be able to now after his vast improvement during the track season where ran a season best 1600 meter time of 4:27.04 during outdoors. Helping make for a team with solid depth with Andrews, Carlton, and Rosanelli leading the way include Clay Bartoszek and Stephen Cox, who are low seventeen minute 5K runners.
Westfield, who finished seventh in last year's Northern Region, return a batch of runners who could help them to that state meet that has eluded them the past two years with solid squads. David Groff, a 800 meter specialist (1:54:41 best), has shown he has great range with a personal best time of 16:32.90 for the 5K. Fellow Westfield rising senior James Scheiner provides a strong one-two punch of the Bulldogs with a 5K best of 16:19.50 as well as solid track times in the 1600 (4:23.65) and 3200 (10:00.59) meter runs. Younger sibling to recently graduated all-state cross country runner Bryan Buckland, Andrew Buckland (10:19.33) will try to come close to following his brother's footsteps of success. Jason Weiskopf (4:41.49 1600m) also returns for Westfield.
Hayfield returns one of the strongest groups out of any non-advancing state meet team from a year ago. Hayfield was sixth in last year's Northern Region Meet, but returns a team that should get out of the region this fall. Pacing the Hawks is Andy Riley, who is the tenth fastest returnee (16:46.07) from last year's state race. Riley has a personal best of 16:38.58 for the 5K as well as a solid 3200 meter time of 9:47.57. The versatile Andy Connell, who focuses on the pole vault during the track season, ran a personal best 5K time of 16:44.32 at Foot Locker South last fall. If rising junior Brian Fussell can match his performances from this past outdoor track season in cross country this fall, Hayfield will be tough as Fussell clocked times of 4:20.25 in the 1600 meter run and 1:56.81 as he earned all-state honors in the 1600 meter race.
With Jennifer Boyd of Hickory now headed to N.C. State University in the fall, it leaves the girls' individual state crown in the midst of a free for all amongst many qualified contenders.
Morgan Phelan of Hayfield was last year's state runner-up (19:00.27) to Boyd and returns this year, but with many health questions. Phelan was forced to sit out all of outdoor due to multiple stress fractures on her leg and her recovery this summer will be slow and gradual. If she were to bounce back to the form she was at last year, it would definitely be the comeback of the year.
With the fastest returnee's status looking iffy for this fall, it leaves the door open for others to step in. Kellam rising senior Natalie Sherbak would certainly love to keep the state crown in the beach area as she is the third fastest state meet returnee (19:31.24). With Boyd and teammate Kelley Taylor graduated, the Eastern Region is all Sherbak's to dominate, but she would like the state stage of dominance as well. Sherbak has the third fastest overall returning 5K time in the state (18:24, Eastern Region Meet) and fastest among returning AAA runners. Sherbak was all-state in the 1000 meter run indoors and 800 meter run outdoors and had personal bests of 2:58.81 and 2:16.29 in those respective events as well as a 5:10.90 1600 meter best to add. If the state meet race comes down to a kick and Sherbak is with the leaders, it will be hard for anyone else to contest Sherbak's finishing speed.
Central Region champion from a year ago, Lindsay Traudt of James River has an opportunity to not only repeat as state champ with her team, but as well as win a state individually as the third fastest returnee from last year's state meet race (19:32.15). Traudt won the Foot Locker South Junior/Senior race last fall and has a personal best of 18:58.10 for 5000 meters. Traudt focused on the 1600 meter run during track and posted a personal best of 5:09.87 in the spring as well as earned all-state honors in the event outdoors.
Beth Fahey of Forest Park is very capable of taking the state title this fall based off of her performances last year. Fahey is the fourth fastest returnee (19:33.05) from last year's state meet race and has the second fastest returning 5K time (18:27.28, Foot Locker South). Fahey continued to shine during the track season as she was a state runner-up indoors in the 3200 meter run and was all-state in the event outdoors. Fahey's personal bests of 5:10.63 in the 1600 meter run and 11:08.81 in the 3200 meter run rank among the top times returning this year.
Fahey will have plenty of competition to be pushed just in her own region, the Northwest Region, with Potomac Senior's Jill Porto. Porto is the fifth fastest returnee (19:37.47) from last year's state meet race and has a personal best of 19:06.48 at the distance. While Porto did not have the greatest track season, it is on the cross country course where she excels and expects to do so again this fall.
Midlothian rising junior Amanda Patterson, only the thirteenth fastest returnee from last year's state race (20:01.98), will be predicted to finish much higher with the way she performed during the track season. Patterson earned all-state honors indoors in the 1600 meter run (5:13.51 indoor season best), but really stepped it up a notch during the outdoor season. At the Southern Track Classic, she ran a season best for 3200 meters (11:00.60) as she was just shy of breaking the eleven minute barrier. However, she saved her best race for her last one in the outdoor track season as she nearly pulled off an upset win over Hickory's Jennifer Boyd in the 3200 meter run with a state runner-up finish (11:09.09).
Patterson's top regional rival for the next two years, Maggie Walker rising junior Ritchie Vaughan, will also be expected to be in title contention this fall. Vaughan, the fourteenth fastest returnee (20:06.22), ran a personal best 5K time of 19:13.22 at Foot Locker South last November. During track, she was a regional champion at 3200 meters for both indoors and outdoors and earned all-state honors as well in the event for both seasons. She ran her fastest 3200 meter time of 11:10.04 in a defeat over Patterson at the Central Region Meet. With Traudt, Patterson, and Vaughan all in one region, the Central Region Meet may end up being a preview of who will be the state meet champion the following weekend.
The AAA girls' race is definitely more open than the boys' race with more runners having the ability to take the title as Phelan, Sherbak, Traudt, Fahey, Porto, Patterson, and Vaughan are not the only runners who have a shot at winning it all. A handful of others have the potential to move up into this elite group of seven.
Phelan's teammate, Melissa Dewey, a rising junior, crashed onto the scene last fall in her first season of cross country by earning all-state honors in the cross country with a tenth place finish (19:39.97). Her full potential was not shown during the track season though despite running a 11:32.46 3200 meter time indoors because she played softball during the spring. Hayfield definitely possesses one of the strongest top two's in the state coming into this season with Phelan and Dewey leading the charge.
However, James River could make a case that they have the top one-two punch in the state with Traudt and rising junior Rebecca Ward. Ward is the tenth fastest returnee from last year's state race (19:56.57) and also boasts a personal best time of 19:19.50 (Foot Locker South) for the 5K. Ward had a solid year in track as she set personal bests in the 800 (2:21.86), 1000 (3:09.47), and 1600 (5:13.00) meter runs.
Forest Park also has a formidable combo with Fahey and rising sophomore Stefanie Slekis. Slekis, the eighth fastest state meet returnee (19:50.03), had an exceptional freshmen year where she ran stellar times in the 1600 (5:19.10) and 3200 (11:33.07) meter runs. Slekis earned all-state honors in the 3200 meter run indoors.
James River dominated last year's state meet with a forty-six point victory over runner-up Thomas Jefferson. From that squad, the Lady Rapids suffered only one loss which was all-state runner Kristin Coffield, who ran number two for the squad. It was a major loss considering there was a bit of a drop off after their number five runner last year. They do return a strong front four however with Traudt, Rebecca Ward, Christy Ward, and Ritz Digrazia. Christy Ward, twin sister to Rebecca, has a personal best of 20:02 for the 5K and 5:23.50 for the 1600 meter run. Digrazia has a personal best of 20:15.80 for the 5K and 12:07.93. Christy Ward and Digrazia will be expected to close the gap that exists between them and their top two runners. Emily Beck (21:29 states) and Jenny Eisenberg (21:55.01) return from last year's state meet team and one of them will be expected to step up into the number five role.
Lake Braddock expects to return to the podium this fall as they return five runners from their third place finishing state meet team last fall. The Lady Bruins lost number one runner Kelly Swain and number five runner Abbey McGrath due to graduation but return a youthful group that could be better than last year's team. Erin Klein, ran number six for the team at last year's state meet, but could end up leading the team this fall after how she performed in her freshmen year of track. With a 5K personal best of 20:03.27, Klein really started to break through on the track in the 3200 meter run. At the National Scholastic Indoor Championships in March, Klein ran a personal best time of 11:11.40. While she did not better her 3200 meter time in the outdoor season, she did better her time in the 1600 meter run (5:16.20). Rising junior Kelsey Snowden, returns as the top returnee (20th, 20:22.06) from last year's state meet for Lake Braddock. Snowden focused on the middle distance events during the track season with the 800 (2:21.72 season best) and 1000 (3:08.36 season best) meter races. Rising junior Kelly Sherrard has the fastest 5K personal record out of any of the returning Lady Bruins with her 19:43.94 clocking at Foot Locker South last November. Sherrard posted solid track bests of 5:29.22 in the 1600 meter run and 11:50.24 in the 3200 meter run last spring. Becca Hoogland, sister to this past year's 3200 meter outdoor state champion Steve Hoogland, will be a key member of Lake Braddock's top five with bests of 20:03.62 in the 5K and 12:02.64 in the 3200 meter run. Rising junior Sara Rothe (5:27.30 1600m, 11:53.44 3200m) was injured during last fall's cross country season, but will look to get back to the level she was at her freshmen year of cross county where she ran a 19:24 5K. Lake Braddock clearly has one of the deepest and talented teams in the state, but it is just a matter if they can put all the pieces of the puzzle together to make a run for the state title.
Herndon, who finished fourth at last year's state meet, returns their top six runners and will be in contention once again this year for the state title. Leading the team is Kristin Hart, the ninth fastest returnee (19:53.24) from last year's state meet. The one thing to cause Herndon to worry however is if Hart can stay healthy. Hart had an amazing sophomore year where she ran personal best times in the 5K (18:40.01), 3200 meter run (11:08.84), and 1600 meter run (5:11.18), but she has not been the same since suffering a stress fracture at the end of her sophomore year of outdoor track. She still ended up running number one for Herndon last fall, but she was a full minute slower at states than she was the year prior. Then another injury set her back again as she was forced to sit out her entire junior year of outdoor track. If she can stay healthy and return to her top form, then Herndon could be unstoppable with the support she will have. Jenny Miller (5:26.74 1600m, 12:18.14 3200m) and Heather Fisher (2:58.53 1000m, 5:02.94 1600m, 2:18.40 800m) make for a solid top three for Herndon as top twenty-five state meet returnees. Fisher especially has a lot of upside going into this season after a strong track year where she was the state runner-up indoors for the 1000 meter run and all-state outdoors for the 800 meter run. Colleen Lear (20:13.35 5K), Jessie Erickson (5:30.42 1600m, 11:28.01, 20:25.13 5K), and Cariegh Gregory (5:29.52 1600m, 12:01.48 3200m) also return from last year's state advancing squad to give them a solid six. Sara Sieb (5:39.44 1600m, 12:38.63 3200m) and Karen Wilson (2:25.50 800m, 3:09.89 1000m, 5:38.34 1600m) will provide extra depth for an already deep Herndon roster.
The Maggie Walker girls return everyone from last year's squad, who were runners-up to James River at the Central Region Meet and sixth place finishers at the state meet. They are led by Vaughan, who will be in the hunt for the individual crown, but also have one of the strongest top three's in the state with rising juniors Emily Wauford (15th fastest state meet returnee) and Stella Askin (17th fastest state meet returnee) not too far behind. Maggie Walker could realistically have three runners earning all-state honors with that trio. Wauford has a 5K best of 19:29.94 (Foot Locker South) and also performed well on the track in the spring by running personal bests in the 1600 (5:21.62) and 3200 (11:24.05) meter runs. Askin, while primarily considered a middle distance runner (2:20.01 800m, 3:07.88 1000m, 5:31 1600m), has great range as shown with her 19:57 5K best. Rachel Simpson (5:24.39 1600m , 11:41.02 3200m, 20:01.38 5K), Tracy Jennings (5:29.39, 20:48 5K), and Kaitlyn Smoot (20:59 5K) help fill out a strong top six. The only question mark is Simpson's health as she was out of commission for the entire track season.
Barring another breakdown at the regional meet, the Midlothian girls should be able to advance to the state meet this fall and perform well on the state stage. Going into last year's Central Region Meet, Midlothian appeared to be the number two team in the meet going in behind eventual state champion James River, but two of their top three runners had an extreme versions of what some call "off days" as probable all-region top fifteen runners Jessica Oakley and Erin Prillaman ended up finishing near the rear of the field, together. A year later, this talented group from Midlothian is more improved and tougher with a talented top four that can take them very far. Leading the way is Patterson, who has quickly emerged as one of the top female distance runners in the state. Behind her are Oakley, Prillaman, and Maria Anthony to make a formidable foursome. Oakley, as a freshmen last year, posted some strong times including a 5:11.97 in the 1600 meter run and 19:54.10 in the 5K. Prillaman was a Central Region champion in the 1000 (3:05.12 best) and 800 (2:18.62) meter races and as well earned all-state honors in the 800 meter run outdoors. Prillaman has decent range with a 19:57.40 5K best. Anthony ran her finest race at states last fall with a personal best time of 20:11.31 as she is the sixteenth fastest returnee. The only problem that remains with the Lady Trojans is finding a number five runner, which is crucial if they want to be successful this fall.
Hayfield finished just one spot out of advancing to states last fall out of the Northern Region Meet and expect to crack into that top four this fall and do some damage at the state meet. With two returning all-state runners in Phelan and Dewey to help yield a low team score, the Lady Hawks just need for their next three runners to step it up a notch to put the team in a position to do something. Neela Balkissoon (11:54.88 3200m, 20:12 5K), Ashley Bivins (3:20.13 1000m, 19:46 3 mile), and Kayla Peevy (19:18 3 mile, 20:54.62 5K) will need to close the huge gap that exists between them and top two runners Phelan and Dewey for Hayfield to have any hopes of making an impact at states.
There is no team or individual that appears to have the state title in the bag just yet. With so many great teams and individuals all vying for the same goal this fall, it will surely elevate everyone's game. November 8th will be a day of much anticipation prior to and of much remembrance afterwards.