Following an impressive 4th place finish at the National District Meet at Burke Lake Following an impressive 4th place finish at the National District Meet at Burke Lake Park, the Falls Church High School Girls cross country team will advance to Regional competition this Thursday, November 2 for the first time in almost 10 years. To qualify for the Northern Region Meet also set at Burke Lake Park, the Lady Jaguars edged out National District teams Mt. Vernon, Stuart, Edison and Wakefield, all whom had beaten them in the regular season. In addition to being one of the top four teams to advance to Regionals, the Jaguars also saw plenty of individual success at last week’s district meet.
Leading the way was sophomore Audrey May, who placed seventh overall, running for a personal best time of 19:43 and being one of the top 15 individual runners to earn a spot in the Regional. May was followed by senior Casey Davenport, sophomore Valerie Thibeault, senior Rebecca May, freshman Arianna Tyner, junior Anna Papadogiannis and senior Ha Thiet, all of whom ran solid races which were critical for the Lady Jags. Joining the girls at the Regionals will be senior Kevin Cornett, who qualified for the third straight year, taking sixth place in the boys race with a personal best time of 16:07. The Falls Church Cross Country teams are coached by Head Coach Rebecca Larson and Assistant Coach Erin Paul.
George Marshall High School’s boys cross country team improved on last year’s fourth place finish, taking the third place slot at last week’s district competition and moving on to the Regional meet for the second consecutive year. Juniors William Haugh and Oscar Olazo led the team with 11th and 12th place finishes, running 16:19 and 16:20, followed by senior Jason Pennington, whose late surge clocked him in at 16:27 and gave the Statesmen three runners in the top 15. The three leaders are members of the record-breaking 4x800m relay team which also features senior Alex Cvrk, who missed the meet due to injuries and should give Mason’s team a big boost for the Regional. Juniors Kevin Gollogly (16:46) and Daniel Haugh (16:50) also had solid runs, finishing 22nd and 24th for the Statesmen.
On the girls side Marshall finished sixth, lead by senior Jacqueline Hargrove whose time of 19:25 placed her a personal-best 18th, just three spots shy of the Regional mark. Sophmores Chandler Dennison (20:18) and Lisa Carter (20:49) also turned in personal bests, as well as freshman Bresliln Toole, who tied Carter at 20:49, shaving nearly half a minute off her previous best time.
Despite outstanding performances from runners Ethan Rissell and Abiy Mohammed who finished 2nd and 3rd out of a field of 56, Stuarts boys cross country team fell short of the National District title, falling to Washington-Lee. Rissell and Mohammed finished with times of 15:44 and 15:48 over the three mile course, the two fastest times in 48 years of Stuart cross country. The Raider runners contributed a stellar performance at the meet last week, running faster times and accumulating a better score than last year’s champions, but it wasn’t enough to take the title from the Generals. Mustansar Haidat also turned in a solid race for Stuart, running 17:15 for 14th. The Raiders hope to better their times and qualify for the state tournament in next week’s regional competition. The Lady Raiders finished sixth as a team and were led by Elaine Twigg whose time of 20:32 placed her 17th and was the fastest run by a Raider since All-District Pam Davis several years ago. Although the girls team failed to qualify for the regional tournament, they return a core of good runners and hope to be a strong contender next season.