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Bruins Chase Down State Cross-Country Title

Girls' team prevents Midlothian High School from passing Lake Braddock in record book.

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The Lake Braddock girls' cross-country team, coached by Michael Mangan, poses with the Virginia AAA State Championship trophy at the Plains, Va.

For the Lake Braddock Secondary School girls' cross-country team, competing in the Virginia AAA State Championship race presented an opportunity to keep the Bruins in the record books.

Entering the meet, Lake Braddock and Midlothian High School shared the record for consecutive AAA State Cross-Country Championships with four apiece.

Midlothian has won the past four State Championships while Lake Braddock's string of wins came in the 1990s.

"We didn't want to let Midlothian pass us," said Lake Braddock head coach Michael Mangan.

Driven by the tradition of the Lake Braddock program, the girls' cross-country team successfully kept an eraser from removing its name from the record books by winning the Virginia AAA State Championship on Nov. 14 at The Plains, Va.

Although the two high schools will share the record, Mangan said it was the team's goal to foil Midlothian's record attempt.

"Before the race we talked about our cross-country tradition," Mangan said. "We talked about how we didn't want to lose our place in the record books."

The Bruins were led once again by the heroics of freshman Sophie Chase who finished second overall with a time of 18:28.

Chase turned in strong races at the Patriot District and Northern Region Finals earlier in the month, but Mangan said that her state race is only beginning to show how good she can be.

"It's going to be unbelievable to watch [Chase] develop," Mangan said. "She is so talented. We knew she was pretty darn good, but I don't know if we knew she was as fast as she's been."

The State Championship is also the final cross-country race for senior Liana Epstein who has been the Bruins leader on and off the track.

Epstein finished in 11th place with a time of 18:57 and battled with side effects from a bout with dehydration during the Patriot District Championship.

Although Epstein is more accustomed to finishing in the top five, her 11th place finish was critical in helping the Bruins earn the state title.

"[Epstein's] been our horse all along," Mangan said. "She didn't get to see the fruits of her labors because of the dehydration, but she's led the team all year and her presence allowed Chase to find her own way."

While Epstein and Chase are the team's two star runners, Mangan said the depth of the team was the biggest reason for the team's success all season.

Mangan credited the senior girls’ drive to leave the program on a good note as another driving force in the victory.

"The senior girls wanted to get a title before they left," Mangan said. "The kids are very special. This team was ultra-motivated since day one to get that championship."

The Lake Braddock boys' team also competed and finished fourth overall in the team competition.

Junior Luke Sohl was the top finisher from the boys' team placing 19th with a time of 16:37.