The Herndon High boys’ cross country team is talented, deep and confident going into the fall season. And head coach Pete Sherry believes the Hornets have a good chance of improving on what was a fairly successful 2008 season when the Hornets finished fourth in the strong Concorde District before going on to a sixth place finish at the Northern Region Championships.
“They did very good last year and I was happy,” said Sherry, of last year’s team. “It raises expectations.”
Sherry believes the Herndon boys could have their best team since 2004 when the Hornets finished fifth in the state.
“It is my best team since then,” he said. “We go 10 deep.”
Herndon’s top two runners going into the season are senior Jack Jasper and junior Jimmy Luehrs. Another top runner is sophomore Troy Hunsaker. Jasper finished 12th overall at the region championships last year at Burke Lake Park.
The Hornets lost their top runner from last year, Todd Van Luling, to graduation. Van Luling finished sixth at the 2008 district championships before finishing a strong ninth at regionals.
But Sherry believes this year’s boys’ team will excel, and could make a splash in what could be a weaker region field this fall.
“The boys should be good this year,” said Sherry, whose team captains are Jasper and fellow 12th grader Alex Anthony.
THE HERNDON GIRLS, meanwhile, are just two years removed from winning the region title. Last year, with most of the same line-up back, the Hornets slipped to a disappointing seventh place finish at regionals, one week after having earned a second place position at districts.
“Our goal is to get to the state meet,” said Sherry, whose team must ultimately finish among the top four teams at regionals, later this fall, to earn a state seeding. “That will be tough because the region is really tough this year. There are six or seven top teams.”
Herndon lost talented runners Hiruni Wijayaratne and Jessica Wilds to graduation.
Herndon’s top three runners this season are juniors Carolyn Hennessey and Carly Kulik, and sophomore Belle Burgess. Hennessey and Kulik finished fifth and eighth overall, respectively, at the district championships last year. Then at regionals, Hennessey led the Hornets with a 10th place overall finish.
Last spring during the outdoor track and field season, Hennessey was the region champion in the two mile race.
“They are all good racers,” said Sherry, of his top three girls’ runners. “They all seem to step it up at race time. They’re doing a good job. All three are working together, which is nice.”
The Herndon girls’ co-captains for ’09 are Mehnaz Hag, an all-state track and field athlete at Herndon, and Naz Kochhar.
Both the Herndon girls’ and boys’ teams will compete at this Saturday’s Puma Invitational, which will take place at Fork Union Military Academy outside of Charlottesville. Herndon is competing at the Puma Invitational for the second straight year. Coach Sherry credited Fork Union coach Winston Browne with being a good host and running a good meet at last year’s event.