By Jim Laise - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Skyline High School senior cross-country meteor Thomas Madden is a young man who has qualified for the nationally renowned Foot Locker championships.
He is the defending Group AA state champion. On Saturday, he turned in a 15 minute, 55-second time on the 3.2-mile Kernstown Battlefield course.
On Wednesday, Madden raced to a 16:43. And like Saturday's Judges Classic, he finished well ahead of the second-place boys finisher at Wednesday's Northwestern District mini-meet on the battlefield. He was happy that he finished the hilly layout with a strong kick, but he was dissatisfied with his start.
"I don't know what happened," Madden said. "I ran the last part to work on my finish. That's what we're working on."
Madden has bigger fish to fry, what with a meet at Loudoun County's Oatlands plantation upcoming and a Sept. 29 date at the Great American Cross Country Festival.
In truth, the veteran Hawks runner was using this meet for training purposes.
"He's one of the best in the country. The facts prove that," said Skyline coach Mike Tanner. "It was just a workout."
Tanner said he saw his No. 1 guy at a point on the course when Madden was about a mile into the race and knew the youngster was a bit behind his pre-determined pace.
"We wanted him to go out early, relax and finish strong. But when he passed by, I thought he had gotten out a little more slowly," Tanner said.
Handley (30 points) finished ahead of James Wood (53), Sherando (67), Millbrook (83) and Skyline (138) on the boys side.
In the girls meet on the same course, Handley (29) finished ahead of Millbrook (45), James Wood (73), Sherando (90) and Skyline (236).
A highlight for the Sherando girls was senior Nisha Moore, who finished ninth overall with a team-best 22:26.
Moore decided as a junior to focus on cross country after track and soccer had shared her time. She said the Warriors' team motto this fall is "fear nothing," and she has taken those two words to heart.
"My freshman and sophomore years I split between soccer and track. I really played soccer and ran track without being able to practice for the meets," Moore said.
Moore was a regional qualifier in 2011. She ran a 20:44 in the first race of the 2012 season in Maryland and posted a 21:30 jaunt recently in North Carolina.
Those around her say she learned to run in the first grade when she schooled boys in sprints.
As a junior, she looked at running almost as a daily task.
"I didn't really analyze it until after last year, but it's turned into fun this year and I can't wait to get out and run," Moore said.
James Wood's Amber Hawkins won her second straight meet on this course in four days. She clocked a 19:52, and was as dominating as Madden.
Sherando's runners -- aside from Moore -- finished anywhere from ninth to 22nd.
Skyline was led by Alex Zarzuela (27:49), who finished in 41st. Teammates followed her in the range of 45th to 52nd.
On the boys side, Sherando's James Reese (17:50) was the first Warrior crossing the tape at 17:50 (fifth).
Skyline's second-best time came from Jacob McConaby (19:04) for the 24th spot.