By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- The Clarke County Eagles hosted a tri-team Bull Run District cross country meet Wednesday afternoon and made a strong showing, taking first place for both boys and girls against Strasburg and Rappahannock County.
Summer made a strong showing of its own, with the start-time temperature of 97 degrees, compared with a historical average of 77 for the day, at the 5K Mansfield Farm course northeast of Berryville.
The combination of the extreme heat and the 90-plus school Oatlands Invitational coming Saturday caused the Rams to hold out their top runners, and the Eagles' roster was shortened by a combination of illness and vacations.
But the heat didn't faze the Eagles' Steven Trayer, who reached the first-mile mark in 5:16 and led the entire way to a 17:14 first-place finish.
"I just went out and ran," Trayer said. "I didn't try to do a specific pace. The first mile was a little fast, 5:16, which is around what I want to come through at Oatlands, where I hope to do much better and get sub-17 [minutes].
"This was my first race where I was completely on my own [in the lead]. It was a new experience and felt a little odd. I did 17:08 against Skyline, but I had someone pacing me."
A pair of Clarke County runners lagged Trayer by 2:08, as Zach Campbell took second (19:22) with Adam King close behind in third place (19:29).
"I was going a bit slower because of the heat and I didn't want to die out there," Campbell said. "I was just trying to go with the team and use someone to push me. I also wanted to save something for Oatlands. [King] was pushing me. I knew I had to go just to keep it up there."
Anthony Wallis and Jordan Bowes (both at 20:05) took the fourth and fifth places for the Rams.
The Eagles' top-three trio, and Teddy Biddle-Snead's seventh-place finish, produced a team first-place score of 23 for Clarke County, far ahead of Strasburg's 52 and Rappahannock's 57.
Strasburg sophomore Kirsten Campbell, sprinting to the finish line (23:41), and freshman Morgan Carter (24:02) took first and second places, and Emily Walker (26:29) finished seventh among the girls for the Rams.
"Today was just a Wednesday run," Campbell said. "We're really looking forward to Saturday's meet, so we were just keeping it simple today."
"The heat definitely played a role in the race. We had to be careful about how fast we took off," Carter said. "Kirsten [Campbell] really helped pace me. She really helped me a lot."
But the Eagles finished in a pack, taking third-through-sixth place -- Amanda Cascio (25:07), Bridget Acland (26:09), and Megan Waring and Courtney Butterfass (both at 26:21) -- to enable Clarke County to eke out the overall win among girls' teams with 26 points, followed by Strasburg with 33 and Rappahannock with 63.
"I didn't have five of my top seven girls today, so having so many finish in the top seven was really good," Clarke County first-year boys and girls coach Chuck Bowles said.
"[For Trayer] it's really hard when you're running alone, but usually when you're ahead, you don't know how close anyone is. So, in your head, they're right behind you. I tried to tell [the runners] to start slower because of the heat, but they didn't really seem to pay attention."
"We were using [this meet] as a good Wednesday tune-up race for Saturday at Oatlands," Strasburg boys and girls coach Jeff Rudy said. "We're really pushing things. We have some new runners, such as Morgan [Carter]. She's now our number five runner. Katlyn Ayers [Group A 2009 State champion] and Rachel Taylor will be with us at Oatlands.
"[On the boys team], we lost both Dylan Moray and Patrick Kohlhaas, both of whom are running in college now. But we have some great people stepping up, like Dylan Callaway and Jordan Williams, who is now our number one."
Ayers, Taylor and Williams did not run in Wednesday's meet.
It was the fourth meet of the year for the Eagles, but only the second outing for the Rams. Much more favorable weather is forecast for Saturday's Oatlands Invitational near Leesburg -- partly sunny with a high of 80.