Both George Mason’s girls and boys Cross Country teams ran brilliant races in the Region B Championship at Panorama Farms last Wednesday, earning spots in the Virginia Single A State Meet this Saturday.
The girls team soundly won their portion of the meet, earning 46 points, 10 ahead of Bull Run district rival Clarke County, who placed second. The top four schools from the Region Meet earned berths in the State Meet. In addition to Mason and Clarke, Altavista and Page County earned the right to represent Region B at States.
The Mason girls were led by the one-two-punch freshmen Natalie Young and Eva Estrada, who finished the 5-kilometer race third and eighth, respectively. Young was twenty seconds off the pace with a time of 19:42, while Estrada finished under a minute behind her.
Sophomore Mollie Breen came in ninth, just behind Estrada completing the 5k in 20:40. Other notable runners for Mason were freshman Leah Roth in twelfth, juniors Brandy Arredondo and Courtney Ready in 14th and 15th, respectively, and sophomore Michele de Mars in 22nd.
The top fifteen finishers at the Regional Meet were awarded with All-Region honors, and also earned spots in the State Meet. Six of George Mason’s top seven earned All-Region, the most representatives they have ever had at the All-Regional level.
For five of the six, it was their first time being named All-Region. Young, Estrada, Arredondo and Roth capitalized on their first opportunity for the accomplishment while Ready added the feat to her already-impressive resume. Breen made it two for two in her career as she made the All-Region cut for the second consecutive year.
The boys team also had a day to remember at Panorama Farms. They placed third overall out of the sixteen schools in Region B. They, too, earned a state berth along with Clarke County, Altavista and Madison County.
As expected, Clarke County dominated the meet with an astounding 18 points. The Clarke runners took five of the top six spots as only Andrew Rigler of Altavista was able to prevent a clean sweep, placing third.
The boys race was much more spread out than the girls one as the difference between first and second was 83 points, and 45 separated second and fourth. Second place Altavista had 101 points with their top finisher Rigler in third, while Mason placed third with its top runner in 15th.
Sophomore Jordan Robarge was Mason’s top finisher once again with a time of 17:53. Robarge’s teammates were scattered from 19th to 59th. Junior Miles Butler had the second best time for Mason, while senior Daniel Benn, sophomore Matt Baker and seniors Louis Henniger and Kassim Rahawi contributed with strong individual races.
Six of Mason’s top seven runners finished in the top half of the field of 112, which is the primary reason they were able to capture third place as a team despite not having anyone in the top ten.
“In XC, it’s about all seven runners,” said Mason’s cross country head coach, Julie Bravin. “We need every one of our seven guys to have a good race. It was all of our guys packing it in tight that earned us third place. They all stepped up and worked together as a team. They were determined and fought hard.”
Placing 15th, Robarge was the only one of the Mason boys to make the cut for All-Region honors.
“Jordan is a first year cross country runner, but it doesn’t show,” said Coach Bravin. “He races perfectly and sets his goals high.”
The cross country season will come to an end this Saturday, Nov. 8, when the teams travel to Great Meadows for the State Meet. Both teams are carrying momentum into the final meet, and expect more positive results.
Coach Bravin is expecting that both teams will show up at the meet ready to fight for some of the top spots, noting, “We’re aiming to have our best race yet.”