On Saturday, Virginia athletes charged into North Carolina descending on the Great American Cross Country Festival in Cary. With the motivating sounds of djembe drums in the background, Virginians convincingly captured both individual and the girls’ team titles in the premier Race of Champions.
Loudon Valley junior phenom Andrew Hunter exploded from the gun positioning himself in the lead. In his first appearance at the Town of Cary Wake Med course, he set a blistering pace that no one could match.
Following his 14:46 effort he said, “I felt good during the first mile and looked back at 3200 m and saw no one. I kept pushing it since I felt really good.”
Hunter grinned as he compared the course to the Foot Locker South course and declared Great American to be a new favorite race. Although meet management credited him with a high school boys’ course record he was just shy of Sean McGorty’s 2012 effort.
Libby Davidson, E C Glass sophomore, continued her dramatic winning ways by leaving her competition behind after the 1600m mark. She wasn’t sure how close second place was and confessed that she “thought Frazier (the eventual runner up) was closing in.” Davidson concurred with Hunter that the Wake Med course is a fast one she likes competing on with good competition.
Blacksburg girls debuted new uniforms and dominated the team title winning by 49 points. Despite trailing to third place Green Hope at the midway mark, the girls picked up the pace in the second half. Bonnie Angermeier, nicely recovered from the stomach bug that slowed her down two weeks earlier on the same course, broke the 18 minute barrier with a stellar 17:43. Her teammates supported her placing four in the top 20. Blacksburg, the runner up in 2009 and 2013, claimed their first team title at Great American. This team performance now moved them into US #2 ranking based on MileSplit's team scores nationally.
Other individual race winners from Virginia include Bailey Knowles, senior of Christiansburg, who won the Girls Invitational Blue. Like Hunter and Davidson she remarked on how much she like the Wake Med course. Senior Zach Gentry of Albemarle HS won the Boys’ Seeded 5k in VA #7 fashion as the clock read 15:35. 8th grader Sophia Link of Blacksburg HS dominated the JV 1 Race on the way to a PR in 19:14.
Virginia teams visited the podium throughout the day and hoisted many trophies by the time Great American concluded. James Madison placed 3rd in the Boys’ Red, Albemarle finished runners up in the Girls’ Red, Thomas Edison and Christiansburg claimed 2-3 in the Girls’ Blue, Albemarle Boys and E C Glass Girls finished runners up in the Seeded races, Blacksburg and James Madison who finished 2-3 in the Girls JV 1, Albemarle took 3rd in Boys’ JV 2, Blacksburg runners up in Girls’ JV 2, 3rd place Christiansburg Boys’ JV 3.