All those early-morning workouts, unbearable hills and hundreds of miles are about to pay off for the George Mason High School cross country team.With the state finals this Saturday at Great Meadow in The Plains, the Mason girls are poised to repeat as state champs, and the boys are on verge of making some noise of their own.
All those early-morning workouts, unbearable hills and hundreds of miles are about to pay off for the George Mason High School cross country team.
With the state finals this Saturday at Great Meadow in The Plains, the Mason girls are poised to repeat as state champs, and the boys are on verge of making some noise of their own.
“There’s some really good competition at the other schools, especially individually,” said Mustang sophomore Eva Estrada, 15. “We have a really good team, and I hope that we’ll be able to maybe repeat, but we’ll have to see about the other competition because we don’t really know if they’re holding anybody back or anything.”
Last season, the Mason girls won both the district and regionals competitions before taking state. This year, the team has again won districts and regionals and is hoping for a repeat. Because of the high level of local competition, Mason is confident heading into this weekend.
“For both teams, we do have what I think is the hardest district and the hardest region,” said Mason head coach Julie Bravin. “Typically, the teams from our region are the toughest teams in the state.”
At the District Championship meet at Rappahannock County high School at the end of October, the mason girls finished first with 41 points, led by Estrada who finished second overall with a time of 19:45. Julia Estrada finished eighth, Mollie Breen ninth, Hannah Beaman 10th, Michele de Mars 12th and Claire Constance 14th.
At Panorama Farms in Charlottesville last week, the Mason girls won the Region B Championships with a score of 39 points. Eva Estrada finished second in 19:33, Breen fourth, Beaman 10th, de Mars 11th and Abby Perez finished 12th.
“We had high expectations because we won states last year, but we try to take everything step by step and not take anything for granted,” said Estrada of her team’s attitude heading into this season.
While the Mason boys have not yet won a title under Bravin’s 11 years as coach, they undoubtedly have been in the mix. The Mustangs finished second at districts with 77 points. Senior Miles Butler led the way with a time of 18:10, good for 10th. Daniel Drawbaugh finished 14th and Jeremy Brown 15th. At regionals, the squad took fourth overall, led by Butler with a 17:58 for 17th place. Drawbaugh took 19th and Brown 24th.
Last year, the team finished second at districts and third at regionals before taking sixth at states.
“My expectations were to do better than we did last year,” said Butler, 17. “The boys want to step it up a little bit. Also for it’s my senior year. A couple of the seniors, we’re hoping to make our push this year.”
Coach Bravin thinks some good things can happen at state for the Mason guys.
“We’re hoping to go to the state meet with some healthy guys and perform the way that they can,” said Bravin, noting that illness has been an issue this fall. “It’s huge. If your body can’t go, it can’t go. Some games maybe you can come out and rest, but in cross country, once you start, you can’t stop to rest. There’s no time, so it’s a pretty big deal.”
Bravin credits the team-first attitude of both the boys and girls as key to their successes.
“It’s all of the them,” the coach said. “It’s not even just the top seven that race. As a team they are very good, so when we got hit with illnesses, we were able to pull up different people. Each girl, and the boys for that matter, have all stepped up. If someone is sick, they know what they have to do and they step in and they make up for it and it’s really been inspirational. It’s really awesome to see.”
The experience of the state finals last season promises to be a key to possible continued success this year.
“Nerves come into play, experience comes into play,” Bravin said. “You just hope that your team has their best day and they do what they can. I think experience is huge. Then again, last year our girls were freshmen and we won. Just the desire of competition, knowing that you’re strong enough to fight through whatever the competition is,” is essential, the coach added.
Estrada is excited about the possibility of repeating as champs.
“It would be really great to win again, just to be able to say that we won again, two times in a row,” the sophomore said. “It was be really fun and a good way to end the season.”