By Dennis Atwood
WOODSTOCK -- Central hosted the Shenandoah County cross country meet Saturday morning at the 3.0 mile Wetzel Farm course off North Street.
Strasburg junior Katlyn Ayers took first place and led the Rams to the girls title.
Central junior Brandon Poff finished first among the boys, leading the Falcons to the boys top spot.
The Falcons took second in the girls event and the Rams finished second in the boys race, while the Generals finished third in both.
"We knew coming in to the meet that it was going to be very tight," Central coach Melissa Wright said. "Stonewall and Strasburg are both running very well at this point of the season and our kids knew that, and I thought they had a great day."
Ayers led throughout to finish first at 18:38, one minute and 10 seconds ahead of second place teammate Kirsten Campbell (19:48), while Rams sophomore Sarah Elbon completed the trio at third place with 20:16. Strasburg finished with 22 points.
Central finished with 45 points for second place and the Generals accumulated 61 points.
Ayers completed the first mile in 5:56 and clocked 12:20 for two miles.
"I wanted to get under 6:00 [for the first mile], and I did that," Ayers said. "This is the first time I've run on this course in my varsity career."
"The coaches told us to just go out and run our race, so that's what we did and it turned out pretty well for us," Campbell said.
Central junior Brandon Poff tied his personal best with a time of 16:09 for first place, and led the Falcons to 36 points as Strasburg gathered 42 for second. The Generals nipped at their heels with 46, in the tightly-contested boys event.
Poff led after the first mile with 5:18 and was at 10:50 crossing the two-mile point.
"I don't really plan my meets, I just go out and run them and see what happens," Poff said. "My time was even with my all-time personal best. I know my second mile's usually my slowest, so I tried to focus on that and make sure that I concentrate on keeping my pace steady."
Strasburg placed second, third and fourth as Mark Colson (16:35), Anthony Wallis (16:36) and Jordan Bowes (16:38) made up the tight formation that was key to the Rams' second-place finish.
The trio were in 9th, 10th and 11th place at the one-mile mark and picked up the pace in the second mile. After two miles they were in third, fourth and fifth place, demonstrating their tactical approach to the race.
"It was a tough race," Colson said. "All the teams are good. We just went out, and ran our race and we stuck together and worked as a team."
"When I started I didn't feel that good, but as I went on with the race I felt better," Wallis said. "It was a nice day out and I stuck with these guys."
It was the ninth consecutive victory for the Central boys team in the county meet and the second-straight county title for the Strasburg girls.
"[Elbon] was little under the weather, Rachel Taylor was very sick and we held out Morgan Carter, so our number six, seven and eight -- Kasey Butler, Kayla Monse, and Emily Tierneyer -- ran really strong today," Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy said. "So, I'm liking the depth of our team."
"It was our second meet of the week," Stonewall Jackson coach Mary Clanahan said. "Alex Gochenour did great with his personal best [16:56, sixth place]. It was great he could run here as he finishes out his career. Our biggest meet is coming up in two weeks when we host the [Shenandoah] District meet."