Facing all five District teams on the Blue Rock Inn District course two weeks before Districts, both the boys and girls’ cross country teams prepped for the all-important meet with a strong performance on Wednesday, October 13th. Eagle Paul Myer led the entire 3.1 mile race, crossing the line first in a time of 17:15 to equal his season-best for the distance and help pull his team to victory.
“The hardest parts of the race were the hills since we don’t have any where we train,” said Myer after his finish. Looking ahead to the District meet he predicted, “George Mason’s team will be our biggest competitor. Their team looks strong right now. As long as we run just like we did today, we’ll do fine. All of us are peaking at the right time.”
Following close behind the leaders were teammates Zach Campbell, fourth in 17:50, and Adam King, fifth in 18:04. Completing the team scoring were Chris Smalley, 15th, finishing in 18:52, and Ronaldo Jiminez, 16th place in 18:57.
Teammate Steven Trayer shared the team expectations: “Run hard, work the uphills, focus on the down hills, and push hard the last mile to the finish.” He called race winner Paul “Mr. November” for his ability to improve during the post-season races. “Paul has the potential to be anywhere in the race. It’s a huge comfort to know the guy behind you is a teammate. You can’t lose to an opponent! We run together in practices so it becomes second nature to stay close together in races.”
Clarke’s team score won the meet with 39 points, followed by George Mason with 45, and Strasburg with 85.
The girls faced much tougher competition, as first place finisher George Mason and second place Strasburg were State champion and State runner-ups last year with nearly the same runners. With her first race after a two-week layoff from a bout with mono, Ally Kuehm led all Clarke finishers in twelfth place in a time of 21:47. Teammate Kelly Lee took 19th place (22:59); Megan Waring, 24th in 23:42; Becca York, 29th in 24:35; and Bridget Acland, 42nd in 25:29, were Clarke’s team scorers. Commented Kuehm, “I’m confident our team can pass through to Regionals, by finishing at Districts in the top four. We were missing three of our top seven runners today, so we have even more strength. The course felt fine. Kaitlyn Ayres (Strasburg’s winner, last year’s State champion) will be the toughest competitor we’ll face all season, as will George Mason’s team. We need to continue to train hard.”
After the races, head coach Chuck Bowles remarked, “The team ran better than I thought they would. This is our seventh race in the past three and a half weeks, so I expected them to be tired, but it didn’t show in their performances. Many had season bests or personal records on this, the District course. That’s always good! Ally and Kelly both had season bests today. We need to focus for Districts, and the guys need to keep our streak alive, while the girls need to aim for Top 3.”
George Mason’s team took first place with 24 points; Strasburg had 41; while Clarke’s girls totaled 92.
The District meet is the teams’ next competition on October 27th, at the Blue Rock Inn course across from Rappahannock High School, beginning at 4 p.m. The top seven runners from each team will compete in the championships with the top four teams advancing to the Regional meet, along with the top fifteen individuals.
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