Going into this year's season, expectations were certainly high for the George Mason High School cross country team. A deep roster of young runners, coupled with the experience and leadership of upperclassmen led the charge, as the Mustangs sought to reach the tier of elite teams in the state. So far, they have not disappointed.
Last Wednesday, the squad ventured down south to Madison County High in a Bull-Run District match-up, battling the host Mountaineers, Rappahannock, Manassas Park and Clarke County. Led by junior standout Susanna Sullivan, the girls team placed first overall in the meet.
Sullivan ran a 19:52 to finish first individually in the meet. Sophomore Karen Hamill, freshman Mollie Breen and sophomore Courtney Ready finished eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.
“Susanna has definitely been our front runner,” said Mason coach Julie Bravin. “Karen, Courtney and Mollie have all come on strong throughout this year. They’ve been racing hard and working extremely well.”
While their female counterparts fared slightly better, the boys squad also proved they are a force to be reckoned with in the district as well. Sophomore Miles Butler led the second-place Mustangs, finishing in fourth overall individually.
Next in line for Mason were Daniel Benn, Louis Henninger and Matt Baker, who packed together during the race and finished in ninth, 10th, and 11th place, respectively. Carlos Clark finished in 13th to round out the Mustangs’ strong day.
“It's so great to know that we have outstanding runners and depth,” Bravin said. “There are about 10 runners that change in and out of varsity.”
While this meet of five schools took place at Madison County, the team traveled there once again this Wednesday to take on the Mountaineers in a dual meet. Results were not available at press time.
The team ends its regular season on Saturday at the Glory Days Grill Invitational, and will head on to the post season. With defending state champion Clarke County in their district, Bravin said, the Mustangs will certainly have to finish the season with some of their best races.
“I’ve been impressed by each one of our 65 athletes,” commented Bravin. “As a team we have had excellent races, there are so many great things to say about everyone. However, the goal of reaching the state meet is still there, so we have to work hard in order to get to that point.”