The South Lakes High boys’ cross country team saw its season get off to a strong start with a fifth place showing at last Saturday morning’s season-opening Monroe Parker Invitational meet, held on the scenic, 2.98-mile course at Burke Lake Park.
The showcase event, which took place in pleasant, cool conditions, consisted of most of the team’s from the Northern Region. There were early morning freshmen races, followed by the JV races. Then, just before noon, the varsity races took place – first the girls’ competition, and then the boys’ run. A large crowd of spectators were on hand for the festive, high school event.
The Seahawks, with their fifth place finish in a field of 26 teams, showed that good things might, once again, be in store for them this fall. A year ago, the South Lakes boys finished a solid third place at the Liberty District championships.
The team’s top runner from that team, Will Sickenberger, is back this season for his junior campaign. At Monroe, Sickenberger ran well and finished 23rd overall in a field of 233 runners. Finishing one place behind Sickenberger and 24th overall was fellow junior Nick Guarnaccia.
“We’re still young and we don’t have many seniors,” said South Lakes coach Kevin Donovan, of his boys’ squad. “We were third at districts last year, and fifth place [at Saturday’s Monroe meet] is pretty good for us. We’re hoping to go to states [later this season] so we’re right there.”
In the region’s postseason format, the top four teams at districts qualify for the region championships. Then, the top four teams at regionals qualify for states.
Sickenberger, who a year ago at the Liberty District Championships earned a medal with a 15th place finish, said the Seahawks are a close-knit group.
“We’re all close as friends,” he said. “Five of our top six runners are juniors. We’ve all known each other since the first grade. Our whole varsity team is unified.”
The overall varsity boys’ team champion was West Potomac (122), followed by second place Jefferson (147), third place Lake Braddock (161), fourth place Centreville (162) and the fifth place Seahawks (169). The individual boys’ champion was Chantilly senior Christopher Foley.
SOUTH LAKES’ top finisher in the varsity girls’ race was senior Val Moyer, who was 33rd overall among a field of 181 runners. Moyer, at last year’s district championships, finished 23rd overall.
Donovan said Moyer is a solid team leader and runner.
“She’s fast and she has a great personality,” said the coach. “She does a great job taking charge and is a great leader by example and hard work. Our girls’ team is very young. She’s definitely the leader of the girls’ group and a real strong runner.”
The girls’ varsity team champion was Lake Braddock with 77 points. Finishing second was West Potomac (95), followed by third place West Springfield (108), fourth place Jefferson (126) and fifth place Robinson (154). The top three teams received team trophies during early afternoon awards presentations.
Liana Epstein, a senior from Lake Braddock, was the individual champion. The top 15 runners earned medals.
IN THE UNDERCLASSMEN races, the South Lakes boys finished sixth out of 20 teams. Sean McCoy led the Seahawks with a 22nd place finish. In the freshmen girls’ race, South Lakes runner Shannon Lane finished fifth.
There were two separate JV boys’ team races. In one of those, South Lakes finished first with 40 points, edging second place South County (42). Seahawk sophomore Morten Grundahl finished second overall in that race, while teammates Brad Cohen and Matt Allen were six and seventh place, respectively.