This Saturday should push the Oatlands Invitational over the top into becoming a nationally recognized event with a huge field of 101 schools featuring some national caliber teams and athletes including the Saratoga Springs girls of New York and Solomon Haile of Sherwood (MD). Both will be heavy favorites in Leesburg despite the fact that most of Virginia's best will be present to give their best against the national powerhouse squad and emerging individual national star.
Can any Virginian stop Solomon Haile at Saturday's Oatlands Invitational? The Ethiopian native competes at Sherwood High School in Maryland and is one of the nation's top returning distance runners after winning national titles in the 5K last year at Nike Indoor and Nike Outdoor Nationals. He will be given his toughest test likely until Foot Locker regionals as five of the top six runners in Virginia will be racing at Oatlands with #1 Tyler Stutzman, #2 Thomas Porter, #3 Ben Dejarnette, #5 Alex Ott, and #6 Kyle Satterwhite. (Photo from mocorunning.com)
Five of the top six ranked boys in the state of Virginia will giving the Ethiopian native Haile his greatest test of the season so far and potentially toughest challenge until the Foot Locker regionals with Tyler Stutzman, Thomas Porter, Ben Dejarnette, Alex Ott, and Kyle Satterwhite all gunning for him and each other. Haile won national titles in the 5K on the track at both Nike Indoor Nationals and Nike Outdoor Nationals. Atlee senior and VA #3 ranked Ben Dejarnette actually challenged Haile in the NON 5K race through 2 miles, but only to falter in the final mile when Haile proved his superiority to the field.
Haile opened his season last Saturday at the Magruder Invite and easily ran away from the in-state competition in a 15:59 victory. Clearly, Haile is fit, but so are his challengers. Porter, Dejarnette, and Ott all clocked in swift splits given the muddy course conditions at Brentsville Relays last weekend with Dejarnette as the fastest on anchor leg for the winning Atlee squad in 7:43 on the 2.5K loop. Porter and Ott were not much slower as Ott was the first finisher on opening leg at 7:45 and Porter posted an identical split on anchor leg for Mountain View.
The Western Albemarle duo of Stutzman and Satterwhite have not raced since the Ragged Mountain Cup on September when both rolled out sizzling splits on a warm day in the 2 mile leg relay. Stutzman shattered his on course record with a 9:42 split, while teammate Satterwhite showed little signs of losing fitness from a summer stress fracture injury with a 10:02 split himself for two miles.
Porter is the only runner of the top six race contenders who has racing experience at Oatlands. Porter is competing for the third time on the course after racing at the Oatlands Invite as a freshmen and sophomore. His experience on the course may play as a factor and into his advantage against the Oatlands newbies.
The matchups for the boys teams are just as competitive and exciting with five of the top six ranked teams in Virginia and seven of the top ten in the state. Also expected to be in the team mix are the top ranked teams in DC and Maryland in Gonzaga and Good Counsel. VA #2 ranked Oakton leads the field, but not by much as VA #3 Thomas Jefferson and VA #4 Atlee were impressive in their invitational wins last Saturday at Knights Crossing and Brentsville Relays.
Oakton will likely still be racing without Brian Hendricks, but did not seem to be hurting too badly without him at the Lake Fairfax Invitational with a second consecutive win in the Delaware meet led by transfer Dante Morales, a race winner in 16:19. A 55 second gap existed between Oakton's #1 Morales and #5 Chris Weil (17:13).
Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson did not have a strong front runner like Morales at Knights Crossing, but was more tightly packed with only a mere 20 seconds separating their top five from 16:45 to 17:05. If Coach Ryan's pack is able to move up even more at Oatlands, repeating their win from a year ago at the invite is very realsitic.
Despite simply running away from a competitive field in the 5x2500 meter relay event at Brentsville, Atlee is still a bit of an unknown and still will need to prove itself against the top two Northern Region schools Oakton and Thomas Jefferson to see if it will be a major player this year at the state meet. Ben Dejarnette's teammates did a great job last weekend in putting him in position to anchor home a victory and will be counted on again but instead following behind a likely low score card from their 3200 state indoor champ.
All three schools were recently ranked in the latest Southeast regional rankings by Marc Bloom and Rich Gonzalez with Oakton ranked #2, Thomas Jefferson ranked #6, and Atlee ranked #9. There is a potential of a rankings shakeup thanks to the great field assembled by the meet management at Oatlands.
Saratoga Springs girls dominated in their first trip to Oatlands in 2007 with 4 girls among the top 15 finishers. (Photo by Ted Plunkett)
Lets just be honest. No team from Virginia is going to challenge the Saratoga Springs girls. They showed the Virginians last year in their first trip to Oatlands how good teams really are that compete high on the national level. Last year, Saratoga Springs put four girls among the top 15, which is no easy 15 to break into as several All-State runners were unable to place in the top 15 at Oatlands last year. Foot Locker finalist and 2007 Oatlands Invite champ Hannah Davidson has graduated for Saratoga Springs, but junior Cassie Guotos is back as one of the top race returnees after finishing 4th in 2007. Their may be new faces will be in Saratoga's lineup, but seeing a bunch of Saratoga Springs runners in the top packs of the race will not be any different. The team returns several key members from a 2007 squad, which finished fourth at Nike Team Nationals in Oregon.
The more intriguing question is who will be the team to place second behind Saratoga Springs. With the exception of Lake Braddock, all of the top ranked Northern Region teams will be at Oatlands including VA #3 Thomas Jefferson, VA #5 Oakton, and VA #7 Herndon. Oakton joins Saratoga Springs as the only other regionally ranked girls squad in the race as the #7 ranked team in the Southeast won the Lake Forest Invite last weekend with 5 runners in the top 15. Oakton is led by two AAA ranked individuals Lanie Smith and Becca Kassabian.
Oakton and Herndon were predicted to be two of the better teams in the state prior to this season, but the addition of star freshmen Sarah Stites has suddenly made the Thomas Jefferson girls only an equal playing field as their male counterparts who qualified for Nike Team Nationals last December. Thomas Jefferson was a close second to VA #2 Blacksburg last Saturday at Knights Crossing. The team's strength appears to be a great front three in Stites, Lisa Junta, and Stephanie Marzen. The weakeness in matching up with Oakton and Herndon may be their depth, but Oatlands will see which team comes out on top and leaves the meet as the favorite in the region and top challenger to AAA defending champs Midlothian.
The individual race should be very wide open. New Yorkers Cassie Guotos of Saratoga Springs and Kate Rosetti of Corning could be spoilers and not let any Virginia girls enjoy a victory, but there is plenty of talent in the field to improve the chances that a race winner could come from Virginia.
Herndon's Hiruni Wijayaratne leads the homestate bunch as the #3 ranked runner in Virginia. Wijayarante posted the second fastest split at Brentsville last as only #1 ranked Kathleen Lautzenheiser of Midlothian ran a faster 2500 meter split. Wijayaratne has plenty of experience racing at Oatlands. Wijayaratne finished 6th at the 2007 Oatlands Invitational.
Brentsville's Maggie Gentry also looked strong on her leg at Brentsville and will look to assert herself as the top runner in Group AA as also in the race will be another top ranked Group AA runner, Christina Lee of Potomac Falls, who ran very well in the 2007 Oatlands with a fifth place run of 18:51.
Top Boys Teams:
VA #2 Oakton
VA #3 Thomas Jefferson S&T
VA #4 Atlee
VA #5 Potomac Falls
VA #6 Western Albemarle
VA #8 James Robinson
VA #10 Mountain View
MD #1 Good Counsel MD
MD #4 Sherwood
Top Boys Individuals:
Solomon Haile (Sherwood MD)
VA #1 Tyler Stutzman (Western Albemarle)
VA #2 Thomas Porter (Mountain View)
VA #3 Ben Dejarnette (Atlee)
VA #5 Alex Ott (Turner Ashby)
VA #6 Kyle Satterwhite (Western Albemarle)
Andrew Palmer (Walt Whitman MD)
Top Girls Teams:
NY #3 Saratoga Springs
VA #3 Thomas Jefferson S&T
VA #5 Oakton
VA #7 Herndon
VA # 8 Brentsville
MD #3 Northwest
MD #6 Winston Churchill
Top Girls Individuals:
Cassie Goutos (Saratoga Springs NY)
VA #3 Hiruni Wijayaratne (Herndon)
Kate Rosettie (Corning)
VA #4 Maggie Gentry (Brentsville)
VA #10 Ariel Karabinus (Osbourn Park)
VA #11 Christina Lee (Potomac Falls)
VA #12 Kaitlyn Davis (Mountain View)
VA #13 Sarah Stites (Thomas Jefferson S&T)
Britt Eckerstrom (Northwest)
Oatlands Invitational - Teams Attending
Catoctin HS (MD)
Corning East (NY)
Elizabeth Seton High School
Freedom (South Riding)
George C. Marshall
Georgetown Prep (MD)
Good Counsel (MD)
Governor Thomas Johnson HS (MD)
Grandview High School (Colorado)
Holton-Arms School (MD)
Holy Cross Academy (MD)
Loudoun County (
Loudoun Valley HS
Middletown (Girls) (MD)
Northwest HS (MD)
Notre Dame Academy (VA)
Quince Orchard (MD)
Robert E. Lee (Springfield, VA)
Roland Park Country School (MD)
Saratoga Springs (NY)
St. John's (MD)
Thomas Jefferson S & T
Trinity School at Meadow View
Walkersville HS (MD)
Walt Whitman (MD)
Washington HS (WV)
Williamsports HS (MD)
Winston Churchill (MD)
Virtual Meet Scoring
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