A year ago, the Dominion High boys’ cross country team proved to be one of the better teams in the state. The Titans finished second at the Dulles District Championships and earned a fourth place finish at the Region II Championships before finishing a solid seventh at the state AA meet.
The Titans will have quite a challenge of rounding into that kind of form again when the postseason races come up later in the fall. They lost four of their top seven runners from a year ago to graduation, including top 10 district finishers Jimmy Rion and Nick Phillips. Even so, Dominion has good returning talent and the Titans are likely to once again be among the top tier of teams in the district.
“We have quite a bit to live up to,” said Dominion coach Brian Schmidt, of his boys’ squad. “But they understand what it takes to get to the state meet and the work in that.”
Dominion has one of the better runners in the state in junior J.T. Duke, who entered the season ranked as the sixth best runner in the state-AA category. A year ago, Duke finished third in the district before going on to place at regionals.
“He’s just strong and is a miles-hound,” said Schmidt. “The longer the distance is, the better he is. He just has a lot of strength.”
Duke, at the season-opening, Judge’s Classic Invitational in Winchester last Thursday, finished 10th overall in the varsity boys’ race. There were 18 schools represented on both the boys’ and girls’ sides at the showcase meet. Races took place at the Kernstown Battle Field.
One of Dominion’s other top boys’ runners, senior captain Nick Sharp, was unable to compete at the Judge’s event as a result of being under the weather. Sharp was a 10th place finisher at districts a year ago.
Titan sophomore Sam Coffman ran well at the Judge’s meet, according to Schmidt. A year ago, Coffman, as a freshman, was Dominion’s No. 7 boys’ runner. He is running at No. 2 this season.
“He put a lot of work in during the track and field season [last spring] and also worked hard during the summer,” said Schmidt, of the improved Coffman.
SCHMIDT ALSO likes the looks of the Dominion girls’ team this fall. The Titans put together a strong showing at the Judge’s Classic.
“I was very pleased at the effort the girls had,” said Schmidt.
Dominion senior Buffy Misanin finished 21st overall in the girls’ varsity race at Judge’s. A year ago, Misanin finished a strong eighth place at districts.
Misanin is the younger sister of Becky Misanin, a former standout Dominion runner and a 2007 graduate of the school. Becky is currently a sophomore member of the Marquette University women’s cross country team.
Schmidt said Buffy Misanin did not immediately develop a true passion for the sport as a freshmen runner a few years ago. But since then she has grown to enjoy cross country more and more and has become a team leader.
“Buffy always realized she had a lot of potential and she kind of grew into the sport,” said Schmidt. “Now, she is one of the leaders on the team.”
Another talented member for the Dominion girls is junior Barbera Rion, the Titans’ No. 2 runner and the younger sibling of former Dominion boys’ runner Jimmy Rion.
This week, Dominion was scheduled to meet district opponent Broad Run in a Wednesday dual meet at the Northern Virginia Community College campus in Loudoun. Next Wednesday, the Titans will meet district opponent Loudoun County in a meet at Ida Lee. Race time is 5 p.m.
On Sept. 26, the Titans will participate at the annual Oatlands Invitational, one of the state’s biggest and most popular high school running events of the year.