By Dennis Atwood -- firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- Central's Brandon Poff finished first and led the Falcons to the boys team championship. Luray's Deanna Teter was the fastest girl and Page County took the girls team top spot in the Shenandoah District cross country meet Wednesday afternoon at the 5K/3.1 mile New Market Battlefield Park course.
Falcons junior Poff was joined by teammates Cole Baker and Jason Ruckman in the lead with 5:33 at the one-mile mark, moved to solo lead clocking 11:22 at two miles, and crossed the finish line at 18:29, 31 seconds ahead of Riverheads' Kenneth Cash.
"During the race, I was always scared someone was going to catch me, so I tried to not look back too much because I thought somebody was right on my tail," Poff said. "I'm really proud of my teammates. I think they did really good."
Luray senior Deanna Teter, a second-year runner, finished first at 22:46, 15 seconds ahead of Buffalo Gap's Grace Sheridan.
"At the beginning I was a little behind, but as the race went on I pushed ahead," Teter said. "It's not my best time, but I think it's a pretty good time for this course."
Central freshman Heather Landes was in third place at one mile, second place at the two-mile point, and finished third in the girls race with 23:13.
"It was a good race, we had good weather, and we had a lot of good competitors, and I'm just glad it all turned out really well," Landes said. "I was just hopping to run a good race and get a good time."
Stonewall Jackson senior Alex Gochenour came in third in the boys race, setting a new school record with 19:04, topping Donnie Sobanko's 19:06 set earlier in the season.
"It's pretty big for me, I just went out there and ran hard," Gochenour said. "I didn't go too hard on the first mile because that first hill kills you. I just kept passing people as I was going and I felt pretty good. No one passed me back."
The strength of the competition in the boys race was evident by the need to employ the sixth-place winner rule to break ties for the first and second and fourth and fifth team rankings.
Central and Stonewall Jackson both scored 45 points, but the Falcons slipped into the top spot by virtue of their sixth runner, Marshall Brill, finishing 17th while the Generals' sixth spot was held by Brandon Jones, who finished 21st.
Riverheads took third place with 63 points.
Page County and Buffalo Gap both tallied 126 points and the Panthers took the fourth spot, earning advancement to the Region B meet.
Luray was sixth with 140, and East Rockingham tallied 167.
The girls team results were also tight as Page County scored 61 to Buffalo Gap's 63, followed by Central, 74, Stonewall Jackson, 87, Luray, 97, and Riverheads, 108.
"I thought we had a great day," Falcons coach Melissa Wright said. "Brandon put together a fabulous race. He must have taken off at about the two mile mark. Chris Black came on strong at the end and helped make it a bit more comfortable for us. Skylar Wolf (19:38, 11th) had a tremendous race for us.
"On the girls side, Heather [Landes] has been improving as the season progressed, and she put together a very good race. A third-place finish for her is a great day."
"Wow, it's just surreal," Stonewall Jackson coach and meet host Mary Clanahan said. "The guys have really come around. They're excited about next week [regionals] and they know the bigger the meet, the better their chances to continue.
"I give Melissa [Wright] and Larry [Bullock] at Central. They've got a wonder group of kids. We're excited for Page and for the other teams that made it regionals."
The top four girls and boys teams, and the top 15 individual runners in each race, advance to the Region B meet, to be held at the Panorama Farms course on Nov. 3.
Central will be moving the Bull Run District next year.
The clouds cleared to sunny skies at start time with the temperature in the mid-70s, and the wind picked up to 15-25 mph from the southwest.