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Saxon Girls Impressive at Monroe Parker

Langley finishes fourth at 23-team cross country event, while Highlanders take 12th place.

If last weekend’s showing was an indicator of how successful a season the Langley High girls’ cross country team is going to have, then Saxon fans should be optimistic about good things ahead this autumn.

Langley, among a field of 23 schools, took fourth place overall at last Saturday’s annual Monroe Parker Invitational meet, held on the hilly 2.98 mile course at Burke Lake Park.

“I was impressed with the way the girls ran,” said Langley coach Gifford Krivak. “We have had a good August training session, and it showed in their performance.”

Most of the Northern Region’s schools took part in the annual showcase event 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.

Then it was time for the morning’s main event – the varsity races.

<b>THE LANGLEY GIRLS’</b> team (137 points) received an outstanding outing from sophomore runner Courteney West, who finished eighth place overall with a time of 19 minutes even. West was thrilled with her team’s top notch showing at the Monroe Parker event.

“We were real proud,” said West, who a year ago as a freshmen finished sixth overall at the district championships. “We didn’t expect to do quite as well as we did [on Saturday].

We stayed together and worked as a team.”

The three teams finishing ahead of the Saxons were first place Thomas Jefferson (44 points), second place West Potomac (86) and third place Lake Braddock (122). Langley finished ahead of fifth place West Springfield.

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.

By finishing eighth, West earned a top 15 medal. Also earning a medal for the Saxons was Esther Jeong, a junior transfer student from Blacksburg who finished in 15th place.

“Courteney West had a solid run, and Esther Jeong gave us a big lift,” said Krivak.

West ran a good race, battling through fatigue down the stretch.

“I felt good until the end,” said West. “I didn’t want to give up and wanted to stay strong. I said [to myself], `You’re almost done, just push.’”

West was part of a Langley team last year that finished second at districts behind champion Jefferson before finishing a respectable ninth place at the Northern Region Championships. She believes the Saxons can do even better this season.

“As a team we’re hoping to go further this year and make it to states,” said West.

Other strong outings for the Saxons at Monroe came from sophomore Elissa Purdy (24th place); juniors Mary Fouse, Allison Brady, and junior Devon Clark; senior Bridget Chesney; and sophomore Jessica Miles.

“Elissa Purdy had a good first race,” said Krivak. “Her season ended in October last year when she broke the growth plate on her foot, but she ran well without any hesitation to finish 24th.”

The coach was extremely pleased with his girls’ overall showing.

“It’s a very competitive group of girls, yet they are incredibly supportive of each other,” said Krivak. “Fourth place is a good place for us to start out – knowing that the top four in the region [later in the season] will go to states. There are a lot of good teams in the region, and the fourth place finish lets us know if we work hard and stay healthy we’re right in the mix.”

The McLean High girls finished in 12th place overall on Saturday. The Highlanders’ top finisher was sophomore Madalyn Harper (45th overall). The next five McLean runners to cross the finish line were senior Laura Baker, sophomore Nancy Eveleigh, junior Samantha Downey, junior Meredith Bloom and junior Alexa Tabackman.

<b>THE LANGLEY AND MCLEAN</b> boys’ teams finished 12th and 18th, respectively, among a field of 30 schools.

The top Saxon boys’ finishers was junior Michael Meyer (40th overall), and the top Highlander finisher was junior Jason Richards (47th).

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).

The individual boys’ champion was Chantilly sophomore Sean McGorty, who timed at 15:17. Lake Braddock’s Sam Rubenking (15:26) was second, followed by Annandale’s Ahmed Bile (third place), Woodson’s Paul Gates (fourth place) and Lake Braddock’s Luke Sohl (fifth place).