The Langley High girls’ cross country team might not have overcome district power Jefferson at last week’s Liberty District Championship meet, held on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 27 on the hilly, 2.98-mile course at Burke Lake Park. But the Saxons, just as they did a year ago, gave the front-running Colonials all they could handle at the eight-school postseason event.
The Saxons finished second with 41 points, finishing just behind the defending champion Jefferson squad (35). The one-two team finish between the two rivals was a repeat of 2009 when Jefferson (26 points) also won the team title ahead of Langley (41).
While Langley did not win first place in the team standings last week, the Saxons did have the top two individual finishers as champion Jessica Miles (18 minutes, 21 seconds) and teammate Courteney West (18:34) garnered first and second place.
Langley will next compete at the 16-team Northern Region Championships at Burke Lake Park this Thursday afternoon, Nov. 4, beginning at 3:15. The top four teams at the Liberty District meet earned an automatic bid to regionals. Along with Jefferson and Langley, the other two girls’ teams to qualify for regionals were third place Madison (103) and fourth place McLean (115).
The top 15 individual runners at last week’s districts earned medals. For the Saxons, those runners, along with Miles and West, included eighth place Elissa Purdy (19:07) and 12th place Esther Jeong (19:38).
Allison Brady, Bridget Chesney and Devon Clark, who were 18th, 23rd and 27th, respectively, also gave Langley solid outings.
“I was thrilled by our girls’ performance,” said Langley head coach Gifford Krivak.
Miles, in winning the district individual title, recorded a season-best time on the Burke Lake course.
“Jessica Miles had an outstanding race,” said Krivak. “I was real happy for her, as winning the district race is special. Very few people can say they are the district winner. She started off slow this season, but has worked incredibly hard and is in great form.
Courteney West and Elissa Purdy also had solid races. All three being in the top 10 made the [team] race close.”
By placing three runners in the top 10, Langley gave Jefferson all it could handle. But the Saxons just could not quite overcome the Colonials, who had five top 10 finishers in third place Stephanie Marzen (18:41), sixth place Kelly Rogers (18:53), seventh place Sarah Stites, ninth place Sarah Neilsen and 10th place Rekha Schnepf.
“Jefferson is one of the top teams in the state -- they have a great program, so finishing six points behind them says that we're pretty good too,” said Krivak.
“This has been a great season for the girls, and we're excited about regionals.”
The top four teams at this week’s regionals will earn automatic bids to the upcoming Virginia State AAA championship meet. A year ago, the top four finishers at the Northern Region Championships were Lake Braddock, West Springfield, West Potomac and Jefferson. Langley finished seventh in the region.
“There are some really good teams in the region,” said Krivak. “I think the race to get into the top four for a berth in the state is going to be very interesting. I expect it will be very close and every point is going to count. We're focused and ready to go.”
McLean High’s top finishers at districts were Madalyn Harper (16th place), Nancy Eveleigh (17th) and Alexa Tabackman (22nd place). Also for the Highlanders, Samantha Downey (28th), Laura Baker (32nd) and Katerina Cronmiller (35th) had solid showings.
<b>ON THE BOYS’ SIDE</b>, Langley (140 points) finished in fifth place at districts. South Lakes was the team champion with 30 points, followed by second place Jefferson (43), third place Madison (95) and fourth place Stone Bridge (119).
The Saxons’ top finisher was Michael Meyer (16th place). Following Meyer on the Saxons’ leader board were Ryan Swirsky (26th), Jack Flatley (29th), Thomas Cole (32nd) and Thomas Zumot (37th).
“My boys’ team improved from eighth [place] last year to fifth this year,” said Krivak. “I was disappointed that we didn't qualify [for regionals] by finishing in the top four, but we have some good young runners who learned a lot this year and I think we'll get back to regionals next year.”
The McLean boys were led by Eric Leimkuhler, who was 21st place overall. Jason Richards (38th) was the next Highlander to cross the finish line.