Local cross country runners from Chantilly, Centreville and Westfield High Schools accounted for numerous highlights at last Saturday’s renowned, mid-season Oatlands Invitational in Leesburg. The spectacular, showcase event is known as the second leg of the Virginia high school cross country triple crown.
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>THE WESTFIELD HIGH GIRLS</b>, competing in the 46-school varsity `B’ race, captured first place with 189 points, finishing ahead of second place McLean (242). Cross-town rival Centreville (248), meanwhile, earned third place while Heritage of Leesburg (259) and Osbourn Park (276) earned fourth and fifth place finishes. Other top 10 team finishers included: sixth place T.C. Williams, seventh place South County and 10th place Stone Bridge.
Westfield junior Lauren Hicks earned a top 25 medal with her sixth place overall finish in a field of 320 runners. She timed at 20:55. Although the Bulldogs did not have any other top 25 finishers, they did have strong outings from sophomore Reagan Warrington (26th place), senior Brianna Berling (46th), junior Leidy Arias (68th), and sophomore Taylor Schwenke (76th).
“Our girls had a pretty solid performance on Saturday,” said Westfield coach Kelly Deegan. “Lauren [Hicks] has never run on the course before but I thought she looked strong throughout her race and handled the hills well. Reagan did a great job, especially under the warm racing conditions.”
Earlier in the morning, the Westfield girls’ JV underclassmen earned a third place team finish.
<b>THIRD PLACE CENTREVILLE</b>, competing in the varsity girls’ `B’ race, placed three runners in the top 25. Those athletes, each of whom earned medals, were: senior Juli Cuomo (fifth place, 20:46), sophomore Isabella Medina (13th) and senior Rachel Brown (22nd). Joanna Ahn (77th), a sophomore, was the fourth Centreville runner to cross the finish line.
The team’s fifth runner, Elizabeth Ellis, was not counted in the scoring as a result of accidentally forgetting to put her timing chip on her shoe.
Centreville had an outstanding meet despite being without two of its varsity runners - senior captain Brynna Heflin, who is battling shin splints, and sophomore Rebecca Vinter, who is coming back from an ankle injury.
“We are very proud of our girl’s team,” said Centreville coach Kelley Devlin. “The group ran a great and tough race.”
Cuomo, a team captain, had an excellent game plan according to her coach.
“She ran a gutsy race and stuck to her race plan to be with the front runners,” said Devlin, of the top Wildcat finisher. “She has a big season ahead. She’s an incredible leader for our girls group. She organized and led summer practices, and has done a wonderful job encouraging and motivating our girl’s team.”
Medina, the 13th place finisher, is building on last year’s momentum when she put together a solid season as a freshman.
“Isabela was our number two runner last year and is off to a great start,” said Devlin. “She actually was out of the country for three weeks in August and has been playing a little bit of catch up, but did a wonderful job on Saturday. She never gives up and has a wonderful competitive spirit in her.”
Devlin said Brown’s outing at Oatlands played a key role in the Wildcats garnering third place.
“She finished very well in the competitive field and ran an aggressive race that helped her team with the top three finish,” said Devlin.
Centreville had two talented freshman runners - Kylie Cuomo and Leilani Boren - place in the top 20 in the girls’ underclassmen race.
<b>FOR CHANTILLY</b>, sophomore runners Sean McGorty and Logan Miller both earned top 25 individual medals in the varsity `A’ boys’ race. In a field of 277 runners, McGorty finished seventh overall with a time of 16 minutes, 31 seconds while Miller was 22nd place with a time of 17:08.
The solid showings by the Chantilly duo helped the Chargers finish 10th place in the team standings amongst a field of 41 schools.