If last weekend’s showing at the Monroe Parker Invitational is an indicator of the success ahead for local cross country teams Centreville, Chantilly and Westfield High Schools, then the fandom of the three Concorde District schools should be optimistic about good things ahead this autumn.
The early season showcase event took place on the hilly, 2.98 running course at Burke Lake Park.
The area girls’ team trio of Westfield, Centreville and Chantilly took sixth, seventh and eighth places, respectively, at the 23-team varsity girls’ race.
The boys’ teams did not fare quite as well although Chantilly, behind an outstanding outing from individual champion Sean McGorty, finished a strong sixth place overall among the 30-team field. Centreville finished 10th and Westfield 20th.
“This gives you a good mark at the beginning of the season of where you stand in the district and what areas [as a team and individually] you need to improve on,” said Bobby Kelly, a Centreville High senior who was his team’s top finisher at the Monroe event.
Most of the Northern Region’s schools took part in the annual meet that gives teams an early season sense of where they stand among their region foes and respective district opponents. Saturday’s races began at 8 a.m. with the freshmen boys’ race, followed by the freshmen girls. Next was the JV boys’ and girls’ races during mid-morning. Then, to cap off the festive day of high school cross country, the varsity races – first the boys’ race at around 11:15, followed by the girls’ race at 11:45 – took place.
It was an outstanding late summer weather day for the running extravaganza with comfortably warm temperatures and lots of sunshine spreading across the beautiful racing course and park grounds. A large crowd turned up to take in the morning’s competition.
Because Saturday’s races took place on the ninth anniversary of the 2001 Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, special tribute was paid to those Americans who lost their lives on that infamous morning. Prior to the varsity races, a moment of silence took place, allowing all of those on hand – the athletes, coaches, spectators and race organizers – to briefly reflect on the day’s solemn meaning.
On hand for the Sept. 11 tribute was the Lake Braddock Secondary School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp, led by Lt. Col. Dwight Lomax, a Senior Army Instructor from Woodbridge. The four-student group, attired in their handsome military uniforms, raised high both the United States and Virginia flags for the ceremonies. The playing of the national anthem followed.
“It’s a great opportunity to come out here, socialize and be a part of this great community event,” said Lomax.
Then it was time for the morning’s main event – the varsity races.
<b>MCGORTY</b>, a Chantilly sophomore, finished first (15 minutes, 17 seconds) in the varsity boys’ race in front of a talented group of runners that included Lake Braddock’s Sam Rubenking (2nd place, 15:26), Annandale’s Ahmed Bile (third place), Woodson’s Paul Gates (fourth place) and Lake Braddock’s Luke Sohl (fifth place).
“I didn’t really know what to expect initially,” said McGorty, who was competing in the Monroe Parker varsity race for the first time. “At the beginning [the runners] got out pretty fast.”
McGorty made his move up with the leading pack of runners on a stretch of hill about halfway through the course. Ultimately, with about 800-meters remaining, he took the lead and went on to cross the finish line nine seconds ahead of second place Rubenking.
“I felt I had the race [down the stretch] and felt strong,” said McGorty. “My goal was to try to win the race. I didn’t know if it would happen.”
Last year as a freshmen runner at the Monroe event, McGorty captured first place in the freshmen boys’ race. He went on to compete in varsity races thereafter and finished eighth place at the district championships, helping the Chargers finish fourth in the team standings and advance to the Northern Region Championships.
He sees good things ahead for the Chargers this season.
”I’m looking real forward to the season,” he said. “Our team looked real good at this race.”
Chantilly received solid runs on Saturday from sophomore Logan Miller (20th place) and seniors Sam Tucker (45th) and Cameron Young (60th).
The Centreville boys were led by Kelly, who earned a top 15 medal with his 15th place overall finish.
“The Monroe Parker is one of my favorite [races] of the year,” said Kelly, who finished 10th place at the district championships last year in helping the Wildcats earn a second place team finish. “You get to see the other teams in your district and it’s like a preview.”
While Kelly was the lone Wildcat boys’ runner to medal last week, Centreville did have several other good outings from such runners as junior Chris Jones (18th) and sophomore Chan Young Lee (32nd).
Westfield’s top finisher was sophomore Jeff Edmondson (51st).
The boys’ team champion was West Potomac (84), which finished ahead of second place South Lakes (116), third place Lake Braddock (141), fourth place Jefferson (175) and fifth place Hayfield (206).
<b>ON THE GIRLS’ SIDE</b>, the top local finishers were Centreville senior Juliana Cuomo (19th place), Westfield junior Lauren Hicks (22nd place), Chantilly junior Carolyn Carlson (33rd), Centreville senior Brynna Heflin (35th), Westfield sophomore Reagan Warrington (39th), Chantilly senior Jennifer Cohen (49th), Westfield senior Brianna Berling (50th), Centreville senior Rachel Brown (53rd), Chantilly senior Hannah Strub (55th), Westfield junior Leidy Arias (57th), and Centreville sophomore Elizabeth Ellis (61st).
The individual girls’ champion was sophomore Sophie Chase of Lake Braddock, who won with a time of 17:32. Edison’s Myah Hicks finished second and Jefferson’s Lisa Junta was third.
Thomas Jefferson High (44 points) captured first place in the girls’ team standings, ahead of second place West Potomac (86) and third place Lake Braddock (122). Langley finished fourth and West Springfield was fifth.