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Lady Saxons Shine at Oatlands Invitational

Courteney West leads Langley team to sixth place finish.

At around the midway point of the fall high school cross country season, the Langley High girls appear to be in pretty strong form. The Lady Saxons certainly put forth a good showing at last Saturday’s renowned, mid-season Oatlands Invitational in Leesburg - a showcase event known as the second leg of the Virginia high school cross country triple crown.

Among a field of 33 teams in the varsity A girls’ race, Langley finished an outstanding sixth place overall. The Saxons’ top finisher was Courteney West (13th place overall), who earned a top 25 medal. Two-hundred and twenty-four runners in all made up the varsity A girls’ race field.

“Courteney West ran 50 seconds faster than she did in that race last year,” said Langley coach Gifford Krivak. “She is incredibly focused, and has had the best improvement over the past year.”

At the annual Oatlands meet, high school teams from throughout Virginia as well as other states compete in a variety of races on the scenic 5K course set on the grounds of Leesburg’s historic plantation. The course is mostly grass with rolling hills as well as some wooded trails. There are also two creek crossings in which runners must navigate.

This year’s Invitational, which took place on a hot, autumn day, was hosted by both Tuscarora High of Leesburg and Freedom High of South Riding.

Earlier day races included two JV Frosh/Sophomore (separate boys and girls races) competitions; two JV Junior/Senior races (boys and girls); two varsity B races (boys, girls) and two varsity A races (boys, girls). In all, 97 schools, both public and private, participated. Most of the schools were from Virginia and several from around the metropolitan area as well.

<b>ALONG WITH WEST’S</b> strong race, the Langley girls had a number of other exceptional outings as well from such runners as sophomore Elissa Purdy (29th), sophomore Jessica Miles (36th), and junior Esther Jeong (39th).

“It was a very tough race,” said Krivak, of the girls’ varsity A. “The weather heat was oppressive and Oatlands is the toughest course we will run on this year. The girls hung in there and pushed their way through. I was impressed with the girls’ drive despite the heat. They work hard in practice and it shows when they race. The heat took its toll on some of them, but they did well despite it. Elissa Purdy had a solid race, and Jessica Miles bounced back from a disappointing first race at the Monroe Parker Invitational. The meet had some of the better teams in the state, so finishing sixth in a field like that is impressive.”

On the boys’ side, the Saxons did not fare as well in the team standings. Nevertheless, there were several good outings by Saxon runners. Mike Meyer (91st), Steven Swayne (146th) and Jack Flatley (156th) all ran well, according to their coach.

“My boys’ team didn’t finish as high in the team standings, but we still had some impressive performances,” said Krivak. “It’s a bit of a rebuilding year, but I think we’re better than last year, and if we keep working hard, we’ll get better each in week in preparation for Districts.”