Elissa Purdy, in just her freshmen season as a member of the Langley High girls’ cross country team, has been an impact athlete for coach Gifford Krivak’s squad. So, naturally, it was a blow to the Saxons when Purdy, as a result of breaking an ankle during a recent workout a few weeks ago, was lost for the remainder of the fall season.
During a team practice in which the Saxons were running a 1,000 meters stretch on a field near the CIA building, Purdy, turning a corner, injured her ankle. Later, X-rays revealed a break. She has since been in a soft cast.
“She probably won’t run again for six weeks,” said Krivak. “Her [cross country] season is over as far as competing.”
The coach said Purdy plans on running during the upcoming indoor track and field season and should be ready to compete in meets sometime in January. She should be at full strength running form by the spring outdoor season.
But for now, it’s tough for Purdy to sit out and watch her teammates compete.
“That’s a hard pill for her to swallow,” said Krivak. “She’s a very competitive, happy kid. The tough part for her is watching the next race. I told her she’ll really appreciate running next year.”
Purdy, who had become the young Langley team’s top runner this autumn, had impressed Krivak by finishing second overall in the freshmen race at the season-opening Monroe Parker event on Sept. 12, leading the Saxons’ underclassmen to a team title. A couple weeks later on Sept. 26 at the annual Oatlands Invitational competition in Winchester, Purdy finished an impressive 39th overall in a varsity `A’ race field of 249 runners. The Langley varsity girls finished an impressive 10th place out of 37 teams that day.
Since then, however, Langley has competed in big mid-season meets such as the Octoberfest Invitational at The Plains on Oct. 3 and last Saturday’s Glory Days Invitational at Bull Run Regional Park without her. To the Saxons’ credit, they have run well without their top athlete. The team finished 15th place out of 46 teams in the varsity `A’ race at the Octoberfest meet. Langley’s top two runners that day were sophomore Mary Fouse (31st) and freshman Jessica Miles (35th).
At Glory Days, Langley was 13th in the varsity `A’ race out of 19 teams. Fouse led the Saxons with a 17th place finish and freshman Courtney West was 38th overall.
Langley will miss more than Purdy’s running ability the remainder of the season. The team will also miss her confident mindset and race day grit and determination.
“She’s got a lot of natural talent,” said Krivak. “But more important than that she has an intensity a lot of kids don’t have. She’s fearless as a runner. She never said, `Oh my gosh, I’m a freshman, how can I run with these [older] kids [at the big meets]?’”
<b>KRIVAK</b>, the one-time Woodson High head coach and a Langley assistant last year, understood Langley would have a young but talented team this season. Last fall, with a more seasoned line-up of such runners as the Shaw twins – Lauren and Carolyn – and Amanda Steffy, the Saxons garnered third place at the Liberty District Championships at Burke Lake Park. The Saxons were led at the district meet by Lauren Shaw, who was seventh overall, and Steffy, who was ninth. Carolyn Shaw was 12th at that postseason meet.
Lauren Shaw went on to a fourth place finish at the following week’s regionals meet. The Shaw’s and Steffy all graduated last spring.
Krivak knew he had a talented squad this fall, but was unsure how the team would handle the graduation losses.
“Obviously, when you lose three top flight runners like that you don’t know where you’ll be the next year,” said Krivak. “But the young girls [this season] have a good deal of talent and have done real well.”
Indeed, this fall’s Saxons have a lot going for them, even with last year’s graduation losses and the injury setback to Purdy.
Fouse, the 10th grader, has a lot of the same competitive characteristics as Purdy.
“She’s really been running well,” said Krivak. “She’s just an outstanding runner and really thrives on competition.”
Miles and Fouse are now the team’s top two runners, while West is the No. 3 runner.
“Jess and Mary have kind of been 1A and 1B [on the team ladder] at this point,” said the coach. “They are real close and do a good job of pushing each other. They are both super competitive.”
Krivak said the team’s highlight this fall was the strong showing at Oatlands when Purdy was still in the line-up.
“That was really impressive for us,” said the coach, of the squad’s 10th place finish at the Oatland meet. “:Since then, we’re doing well. We’re not beating the top teams but we’re in the mix. We’re a competitive group and enthusiastic. Part of that [enthusiasm] is there youth.”
The district championships are set for Oct. 29.
“We’re looking forward to districts,” said Krivak. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us.