Last Saturday morning, the South Lakes High boys’ cross country team displayed some of the talent and experience which could make it one of the top teams in the Northern Region this fall season. The Seahawks, among a field of 30 schools, finished an outstanding second place at the annual early season Monroe Parker Invitational meet, held on the hilly 2.98 mile course at Burke Lake Park.
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 SOUTH LAKES BOYS</b> put together an outstanding showing in Saturday’s Monroe meet, scoring 116 points to garner runner-up status behind champion West Potomac (84). The Seahawks finished ahead of third place Lake Braddock (141), fourth place Jefferson (175) and fifth place Hayfield (205).
South Lakes had two top 10 finishers in senior Will Sickenberger (15 minutes, 49 seconds), who finished eighth overall, and senior Nick Guarnaccia (15:55), who finished 10th. Both Seahawks earned top 15 medals.
South Lakes’ Austin Leggett, a senior, was the third Seahawk to cross the finish line and finished 31st overall. Head coach Kevin Donovan’s squad also received solid showings from seniors Alex Clough, Andrew Reinhold and Kevin Muir, who finished 33rd, 34th and 35th, respectively.
South Lakes coach Kevin Donovan was pleased with the Seahawks’ good all-around outing.
“Monroe Parker is always a highly anticipated meet because it gives everyone a really good idea of where each team fits in the Northern Region,” said Donovan. “Finishing second is obviously a good beginning to our season and allowed us to see some areas of strength and also some areas in which we can improve. We’ll have another chance to measure ourselves in two weeks [at the Oatlands Invitational] and hope to perform even better as we work our way into October.”
A year ago, South Lakes finished second place at the Liberty District Championships – the program’s best district finish since back in 2001 when that year’s Seahawks’ squad had also earned second place. Sickenberger, Guarnaccia, Leggett and Clough each earned top 15 medals at last year’s districts, held on the Burke Lake course. The Seahawks went on to earn a ninth place finish at the Northern Region Championships.
The potential is there this autumn for South Lakes to be even better. The Seahawks will definitely give Jefferson – the defending Liberty District champion – all it can handle and will likely improve on last year’s ninth place region finish.
The individual boys’ champion at Saturday’s Monroe Parker meet 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).
On the girls’ side last week, South Lakes finished 15th overall. The Seahawks’ top finisher was junior Virginia McGiboney. In the girls’ team standings, Thomas Jefferson (44 points) earned first place, followed by second place West Potomac (86) and third place Lake Braddock (122). Langley (137) and West Springfield (150) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
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.
THE HERNDON HIGH boys’ and girls’ teams competed at the Fork Union Invitational last Saturday. The large invitational took place on the Hardy National three mile course in Fork Union, Va.
The Herndon boys, competing in the 17-team Colonial Boys Division of the meet, finished fourth overall. The girls, competing in the 11-team Colonial Girls’ Division, took fifth place.
The Hornets’ top boys’ finisher was senior Jimmy Luehrs, who finished ninth overall with a time of 15:57.77. Troy Hunsaker, a junior, was the next Herndon runner to cross the finish line – finishing 18th overall.
Other good outings for Herndon came from senior Jack Belo (22nd overall) and juniors Jose Patino (35th) and Harrison Murn (36th).
The team champion was Trinity Episcopal (Richmond), followed by second place Albemarle (Charlottesville), third place Douglas Freeman (Richmond) and the fourth place Hornets.
Herndon’s top girls’ finisher was junior Belle Burgess, fourth overall with a time of 19:06.64. Herndon runners Nina Bagley, a senior, and sophomore Noelle Muha finished 20th and 29th place, respectively. Senior Sarah Heuer (41st), senior Carly Kulik (45th) and junior Anne Pursifull (48th) had good races as well.
In the team standings, Albemarle captured the girls’ title, ahead of second place Mills Godwin (Richmond), third place Cosby (Midlothian), fourth place North Stafford and the fifth place Hornets.