By Julie Felgar
Under a clear blue sky and unusually warm weather, the Boys and Girls Cross Country teams put on an impressive performance at the Divisional Meet last Friday. The Boys’ team defended their Northwestern Divisional Title from last year and came away with a first-place trophy by edging out William Monroe.
Monroe has some very talented individual runners, but the Mustangs have a deep bench and placed 5 runners in the top 15 spots, who all finished within 35 seconds of one another in the 3.1 mile race. This is not surprising. According to Eli Wildman, a senior and team captain, “We have been trading places for top finishes most of the season. In our last six races, we’ve had four different champions on the guys side and each of those four came in the top ten at the district meet.”
The Girls Team came in second place, just edged out by a talented Warren County team. They kept their streak alive of nineteen years in a row with a top two finish in the district competition. Lauren Mellon, the girls top place finisher and a senior captain, stated that, “From the perspective of a senior, the team competing this year is the strongest it’s been in a while. We have several very talented underclassmen, experienced returning upperclassmen and a close bond between all the girls.”
Top finishers for the Boy Mustangs were Henry Hladky in 3rd place, Sean Pala in 5th place, Eli Wildman in 7th place, Tucker Albaugh in 9th place and Troy Ehrlich in 15th place. The girls had Lauren Mellon finish in 3rd place, Molly Moore in 4th place, Alexis Niemi in 7th place and Ally Campbell in 11th place. The top 15 finishers are named to the All-District Roll. Mellon, Hladky Niemi and Wildman are all repeat All-District finishers. Approximately 60 runners for girls and boys compete in the district race. The team with the lowest score, based on finish times, wins.
The teams are now eyeing the Regionals and beyond. The Regional Finals will be held in Culpeper this coming Saturday with 7 runners from each of the qualifying teams. According to Coach Jeff Buck, “Both the Boys and the Girls teams have the goal and ability to qualify for States as a team.” Last year, the Mustangs only had one runner advance, Colson Board. Coaches Buck and Hollinger are confident their teams have what it takes and are looking for very strong individual performances from key runners including Mellon, Hladky, Moore, Niemi, Pala, and Albaugh.
The 3B Regional Meet will be at 1420 Achievement Drive, Culpeper this Saturday. The Girl’s Race is at 10:00 a.m. and the Boy’s is at 10:30 a.m. The top three teams and the top five individuals (regardless of team finish) will qualify for States. Trophies will be awarded to the top 2 teams in each race and All-Region medals will be awarded to the top 15 individuals.
Wildman is focused on winning, “The team has really come together and improved so much. I think we have a chance to make a serious impact at Regions. We’ll be vying for that ticket to the State Meet and the Regional Championship this weekend.”
Mellon is equally confident. “As captain, I am excited to lead my teammates through these last post season meets. We hope to perform well at Regionals and qualify for the State Meet in November. Our coaches have put so much time and effort into this program and we have really seen that hard work pay off in our races so far.”