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Campbell leads Rams to district crown

Kirsten Campbell

Anthony Wallis

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

WASHINGTON, Va. -- Strasburg's girls team accomplished something it hadn't done in a long time -- win a district title.

The Rams' balanced squad slipped past George Mason, and won their first district title since 1994 on Wednesday at the Bull Run District meet.

"It's really exciting," Strasburg senior Kirsten Campbell said. "For the seniors, this is what we've been trying for, for the last four years."

Strasburg's girls finished with 60 points, followed by George Mason with 61 and Central with 64. The top four teams and the top 15 individuals advance to next week's Region B meet in Charlottesville.

George Mason won the boys meet with 36 points. Strasburg was second with 66 and Central was third with 71.

Campbell finished second with a time of 20:40 in the girls race behind Rappahannock County freshman Julia Wood, who ran a 19:24.

"Julia Wood is an amazing runner," Campbell said. "She's going to be a real asset to her team."

Campbell said she was pretty happy with how she ran, even though she ran a good bit of the race by herself. Wood was quite a bit ahead of her, and she distanced herself from the next group of runners.

"You just have to try to keep it steady," Campbell said. "You have to know how you want to run and what you expect from yourself."

Strasburg's Sarah Elbon (21:09) finished seventh, Morgan Carter (21:33) finished 11th and Rachel Taylor (22:09) was 22nd.

Central was led by Katie Ritenour, who finished third in the girls race. Central coach Melissa Wright said she was hoping for a top 15 performance from Ritenour and was very pleased with her performance.

Ritenour said she was very happy with her time.

"I just felt like everything clicked today," Ritenour said. "I felt good. I just tried to keep my pace as best as I could."

Strasburg's Anthony Wallis finished second (17:03) in the boys race, despite what he said was a "terrible" race. Wallis said he had a feeling he wouldn't run his best even before the race started.

"I felt good before the race and that's usually when I run bad," Wallis said. "Whenever my legs feel fresh I run bad, and when my legs feel tired I usually do pretty good."

Wallis said he wasn't sure why that happens. He started out behind Clarke County's Zach Campbell, but over halfway through the race George Mason's Jesse Schaffer charged to the front.

"Zach Campbell started to slow down, so I decided I better pass him because I didn't want [Schaffer] to get too far ahead," Wallis said.

Wallis said he got tired at the end, and just didn't have enough to pass Schaffer at the end as he finished seven seconds behind.

Right behind Wallis was teammate Mark Colson (17:12), who has been hampered most of the season by a stress fracture in his left leg that he suffered last spring.

Colson said he just now feels like he's running at 100 percent.

"I felt like I finally came through for the team today," Colson said. "It's been tough for me, because I felt like I was letting the team down. I just had to keep working hard and keep my head up. It feels great to know that I came through today."

Another runner to come through for Strasburg was Eric Brittingham. Typically the team's No. 7 runner, the junior had the fifth-best time for the Rams in the district meet. He placed 33rd with a time 19:35.

"That was a PR for him. I was really proud of Eric," Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy said. "He really stepped up for the team, when we needed it."

Central also got a real boost from senior Tony Whetzel in the Bull Run meet. Whetzel finished fourth (17:23) to lead the Falcons.

"I thought I ran really good," Whetzel said. "I was behind [Campbell] and I didn't think I could catch him. I was happy when I was able to pass him."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com

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