By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- Pritchard's Hill looms large on the cross country course at Kernstown Battlefield.
Runners have to negotiate the lengthy up-slope at the beginning of the race and twice more on their 5,000-meter journey to the finish line.
Skyline sophomore Thomas Madden had no trouble conquering Pritchard's Hill, or any other part of the course, in taking the boys first-place trophy with a personal-best 15:47, in the 36th annual Judges Classic meet Saturday morning. The meet record, 15:10.7, was set by Handley's Bobby Lockhart in 2001.
"I planned just to go out fast and race as hard as I could, and that's what I did, and it turned out for the best," Madden said. "I just wanted to score as well for my team as I could and race hard and pull out the win."
The Hawks took third place in the boys meet with 129 points.
"That's what [Madden] said he was going to do," Skyline coach Mike Tanner said. "I told him there were going to be some state contenders here. I said, 'you might want to feel out that first mile,' and he said 'nope.'
"[Madden's] something special. He goes by the book. He comes prepared and he works hard and it's paying off. Definitely an elite-type talent."
The Kernstown Battlefield was the scene of two Confederate victories in the Civil War. True to their Warriors nickname, Western Albemarle, in its first time in the meet, won both battles Saturday, taking the boys and girls titles.
Western Albemarle senior Mattie Webb blazed across the finish line at 18:47 to finish first among the girls and break Lia DiValeatin's (Chantilly) 2007 meet record of 19:00.0.
"This is the first time [Webb] has raced a 5K this season, so I was really pleased," Western Albemarle coach Katie Pugh said. "She didn't have a lot of competition up front with her, so she was really pacing herself.
"We came up here because there's some great competition and this is the course where we'll be running our [Region II] meet in a couple of months. We wanted to preview the course, see what the competition was, and give the varsity girls a chance to run on it. There are 40 girls on the roster, the biggest group we've ever had. And the boys have the strongest team they've had in quite a while."
Handley senior Tom Delaney finished fifth among the boys with a 16:23 mark, 20 seconds better than his 2009 meet performance.
"I'm happy with the improvement, it's just that the placing isn't what I wanted," Delaney said. "I was hoping to win it. I felt like I was in good enough condition and prepared.
"Coming up the hill [the second time], I let [the other guys in my group] get a little too far ahead and that's what did it in. I was within striking distance, but I should have been a little bit closer. That way, making my move in the third mile would have been easier."
Millbrook senior Ryan Farnan's 16:47 outing earned seventh place.
Western Albemarle finished with 90 points in the boys race, followed by Jefferson (W.Va.) (98), and Skyline (129).
Handley finished seventh (176), James Wood ninth (285), Millbrook 13th (374), and Clarke County 16th (432).
Millbrook Pioneer junior Crystal Nelson took second place in the girls race, with a season-best 19:21, shaving 50 seconds off her 2009 meet mark.
"It was definitely perfect weather, cooler than earlier in the week, so it felt really good, and no breeze," Nelson said. "Definitely the third [time up Pritchard's] Hill is the biggest challenge. That's why I try to push it a lot -- just push through the race -- because that's when I know I'm almost done."
Handley Junior Cindy Quarles took eighth place with 20:37, nipping ninth-place Millbrook junior Karly Knechtel by one second.
"As a team, I think we did really good, and, individually, I thought I did really well," Quarles said. "Our goal was to go out really hard and then pace ourselves and finish the race really well."
In a notable run for a freshman, Handley's Ashden Personius finished 15th at 20:54.
Following Western Albemarle's 58 points in the girls race were Preston (W.Va.) (73) and Woodgrove (107).
Handley took sixth (167), Millbrook 12th (314), James Wood 14th (370), Clarke County 15th (418), and Skyline 18th (508).