The South Lakes High boys’ cross country team left the area last Saturday to participate at the 31st Annual Frank Keyser Invitational meet in Boonsboro, Md.
While there, the Seahawks made the most of their time by capturing first place in the boys’ larger schools division race. South Lakes (48 team points) earned the team championship by placing five runners within the top 15 overall individual finishers.
Twenty-six schools, most of them from Maryland, competed at the Keyser event. Two smaller schools races took place (one boys’ and one girls’ race), and two larger school races took place as well. The Boonsboro course is three miles in length.
South Lakes’ Will Sickenberger finished fourth overall in the larger schools’ race with a time of 16 minutes, 31.6 seconds. One of his teammates, Nick Guarnaccia, was sixth overall with a time of 16:33.5. The Seahawks’ other three runners who contributed team points to the team’s first place finish were Steven Zaboji (11th overall), Fred Kyle (12th) and Kevin Muir (15th). Also running for South Lakes at the meet were Alex Cough (18th) and Sean Williams (33rd).
<b>THE TEAMS FINISHING</b> behind first place South Lakes in the larger schools division race included second place Thomas Johnson (78 points), third place Chesapeake (86), fourth place Linganore (91) and fifth place Urbana (122). Thirteen teams competed.
The South Lakes boys ran well together at the recent 100-school Oatlands Invitational meet on Sept. 20 in Leesburg. Sickenberger was the Seahawks’ top team finisher in that event. South Lakes, at Oatlands, competed in the elite varsity boys’ ‘A’ race.
"I was pleased with the boys and the way they ran in the [Oatlands] race against nationally ranked teams," said South Lakes coach Kevin Donovan, of his fairly young boys’ squad. "They were obviously a little nervous going in because they’re young, but I was real pleased. The main reason of competing there was to get them experience. They had also run well at [Monroe] Parker."
At the Monroe Parker Invitational on Sept. 16 at Burke Lake Park, the South Lakes boys finished seventh overall among 24 teams. Sickenberger, a sophomore, was 29th overall in that race, barely missing a top 25 medal. The annual Monroe meet brings together most of the schools of the Northern Region.
Sickenberger has been his team’s top finisher in all but one race this season. Guarnaccia, a sophomore, has been the Seahawk boys’ No. 2 runner on the team ladder throughout the season, and Zaboji, a junior, has run at No. 2 or 3 for the Seahawks.
Donovan said the Oatlands meet, a relatively young event, was well run. Freedom High of South Riding and Loudoun County were the host schools for the meet.
"Oatlands was one of the best meets I’ve been to," said Donovan. "It’s like a big festival. The kids looked forward to it."
<b>THE SOUTH LAKES GIRLS</b> finished seventh overall out of 10 teams in the larger schools race at the Keyser meet. The Seahawks scored 151 points, finishing behind sixth place Musselman High (142). The girls’ team champion was Thomas Johnson High.
The Seahawks’ top girls’ finisher was Val Moyer, who was fifth overall with a time of 19 minutes, 49.1 seconds. Other South Lakes girls’ finishers were Sierra Scoggin (28th overall), Tess Deatley (33rd), Kari Cantwell (41st), Kayla Funaki (44) and Margo Moyer (45th).
The Seahawk girls’ team, which like the South Lakes boys is a young squad overall, is led by No. 1 runner Val Moyer, who was 40th overall at the varsity girls’ ‘B’ race at Oatlands.
At Oatlands, the Seahawks’ girls ran particularly well in the girls’ JV races, with the JV girls’ underclassmen finishing 14th overall in a large field of teams.
"They did enjoy it," said Donovan, of the underclassmen girls’ competition at Oatlands. "It was nice for them to have some success."
The South Lakes’ girls top varsity runners this season have been Val Moyer and junior Devin Erickson.
"Both are tough competitors." said Donovan. "They push each other well."
Last Wednesday, the South Lakes JV boys’ team won a four-team Liberty District meet at Burke Lake Park. The competing team’s on-hand were Marshall, McLean and W.T. Woodson.
Coach Donovan, the South Lakes’ first year head coach, said he has enjoyed the autumn season at the helm of the Seahawks’ program.
"I’ve really enjoyed it," he said. "They are a whole lot of good kids."