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Seahawks Soar to Third at Districts

Sickenberger earns top 15 medal in leading South Lakes cross country team.

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South Lakes’ boys put together one of their strongest races of the year in earning a third place finish at districts last week.

The South Lakes High boys’ cross country team finished a strong third place at the eight-team Liberty District championships, which were held Oct. 22 at Burke Lake Park. By finishing among the top four team finishers at districts, the Seahawks earned a spot at the upcoming Northern Region championships, set to be held this Thursday (Oct. 30) at Burke Lake Park.

South Lakes, at districts, finished third with 98 points, behind champion Thomas Jefferson (19 points) and second place W.T. Woodson (52). Finishing behind South Lakes was fourth place Stone Bridge (137).

Finishing fifth through eighth at districts were Langley (144), McLean (151), Madison (161) and Marshall (188), respectively.

"I thought we ran pretty well as a team," said South Lakes coach Kevin Donovan. "Based on what we had done all season, I thought third place was where we would end up."

South Lakes sophomore runner Will Sickenberger earned a top 15 medal as a result of his 15th place overall finish. Sickenberger timed at 16 minutes, 38 seconds on the 2.98 mile course.

The team’s other solid finishes came from sophomore Nick Guarnaccia (17th place), junior Steven Zaboji (21st), sophomore Kevin Muir (22nd), sophomore Alex Clough (23rd), freshman Fred Kyle (28th) and sophomore Andrew Reinhold (33rd). Muir, Clough and Reinhold each had personal-best times.

Coach Donovan was pleased with Sickenberger’s medal-earning race.

"That’s what we were shooting for," said Donovan, of the 10th grader’s 15th place finish. "We knew if he ran OK he would be right in there."

It marks the first time since 2000 that a South Lakes boys’ cross country team has qualified for regionals. And this is the first time since 2001 that the Seahawks have had an individual runner earn a district medal.

"That was one of our goals, to get to regionals," said Donovan, of the team accomplishment. "We’re looking to run well as a team [at regionals]. We’ll try to run fast times. Also, we’ll get some experience [competing] at regionals. They’re still adjusting [to big races]."

Indeed, the Seahawks will gain a great deal of experience at this week’s regionals. The team’s top seven runners consist of no seniors, one junior, five sophomores and a freshman. So South Lakes’ strong showing at districts was particularly impressive, considering how young the squad is.

<b>THE LIBERTY DISTRICT</b> boys’ races overall winner was Jefferson senior Alex Witko (15:58). Jefferson runners garnered seven of the top 10 places.

Other medal winners included Madison sophomore Matt Sollinger (7th place, 16:17), McLean senior Joe Thompson (11th, 16:28) and Langley junior Tommy Bylund (13th, 16:35).

<b>ON THE GIRLS’</b> side, Jefferson was also the top team finisher with 25 points. The other three teams to qualify for regionals were second place Woodson (64), third place Langley (89) and fourth place Stone Bridge (98). Finishing fifth through eighth in the team standings were Madison, McLean, South Lakes and Marshall, respectively.

South Lakes’ top finisher was senior Devin Erickson (20th), followed by junior Val Moyer (23rd).

The individual champion on the girls’ side was Jefferson sophomore Stephanie Marzen (18:01). Stephanie Paradis, a Stone Bridge High senior, was second with the same time of 18:01. Other medal winners included Langley senior Lauren Shaw (7th, 18:45), Langley senior Amanda Steffy (9th, 19:00), Langley senior Carolyn Shaw (12th, 19:15) and Madison’s Brigid Byrne (13th, 19:18).

The Oakton High boys’ cross country team finished first overall at the seven-team Concorde District championships, which were held Oct. 22 at Burke Lake Park.

The Cougars won with 45 points, besting second place Robinson (50), third place Centreville (84) and fourth place Herndon (110). Each of the top four team finishers automatically qualified for the Oct. 30 Northern Region championships at Burke Lake.

Four Oakton runners earned top 15 medals. Leading the way for the Cougars was Neal Hendricks (3rd overall, 15 minutes, 34 seconds). Also for Oakton, Andrew McCullen (4th, 15:36), Patrick Fulghum (7th, 15:39) and Dante Morales (14th, 16:01) earned medals.

Herndon’s Todd Van Luling finished sixth overall with a time of 15:38.

The individual champion was Robinson High’s Jared Berman (15:22).

<b>ON THE GIRLS’</b> side, Herndon (52 points) and Oakton (55) finished second and third, respectively, in the team standings, behind first place Robinson (40). Finishing fourth to earn a seeding in the region championships was Westfield (123).

Herndon had four girls finish in the top 15, with Hirun Wijayaratne (3rd overall, 18:28) leading the team. The other top 15 Hornet finishers were Carolyn Hennessey (5th, 18:39), Carly Kulik (8th, 18:45) and Jessica Wilds (15th, 19:14).

Oakton’s Becca Kassabian led the Cougars with a second place overall finish at 18:27, behind first place finisher Stephanie Bray (18:22) of Robinson.

Also for Oakton, Lanie Smith (4th, 18:31) and Kathryn Berlin (13th, 19:06) both placed.