Hawks’ boys take third in district mini-meet

By Brad Fauber

WINCHESTER — Many cross country teams are gearing up for larger meets this weekend, and schools in the Northwestern District used Wednesday’s mini-meet as preparation for Saturday’s competitions.

The approach to Wednesday’s race at Millbrook’s home Third Battle of Winchester Battlefield course differed among the local schools that participated. Skyline took a more aggressive approach to the race to get a better feel for where the Hawks stand early in the season, while Sherando opted to rest nearly all of its top runners ahead of Saturday’s invitational at Cave Springs.

The results of the six-team district mini-meet — which also included runners from Mountain View Christian Academy — weren’t fully indicative of where the teams expect to be at season’s end, but it still provided coaches with some useful information.

“We came to run,” said Skyline coach Mike Tanner, whose team is competing in an invitational at Eastern Mennonite this weekend. “Flat course, so we were looking to get some good times. We haven’t run a 5k yet. We did two races at Central that were 3 miles, so we were kind of seeing where we fit in the 5k times.”

Skyline’s boys team finished the highest among the local teams, as the Hawks placed third with a score of 81. Handley (32) won the boys event, eight points ahead of runner-up Millbrook (40). James Wood (91) was fourth, followed by Sherando (136) and MVCA (173).

Handley (29) also ran away with the girls event, followed by James Wood (47) and Millbrook (57). Sherando (113) finished fourth while Skyline (143) was fifth. MVCA did not record a team score in the girls race.

Skyline junior Tanner Steed led the way for the Hawks’ boys team — who were without No. 1 runner Luke Cline on Wednesday — as he finished in eighth place with a time of 18:00.70.

Steed, who is working his way back from an injury, emerged from the woods in fourth place after the race’s first mile, but he lost ground to the lead pack midway through the 3.2-mile race.

“The first mile I felt great. I came through the mile pretty fast. That was expected,” Steed said. “[Millbrook’s] Tyler Cox-Philyaw is a really good runner, going through there with him. I was expecting to run it with him, most of it. After I got out in the sun, after around the two miles it started hitting me. … I toughed it out, finished it out and went through the line.”

Skyline’s boys also got top-25 finishes from Justin Haggerty (13th, 18:36.70), David Ricks (18th, 19:03.20), Christian Madden (20th, 19:05.00) and Dillon Sirbaugh (23rd, 19:16.90).

“On the boys side we have a lot of work to do,” Tanner said. “We have a good pack up there. … We need to work on being up a little farther. It wasn’t where I wanted it to be today. But we’re focusing on Saturday. We weren’t gearing up for this one, that’s for sure.”

Sherando senior Jahlil Northover led the Warriors’ boys on Wednesday, as he finished 11th overall with a time of 18:32.40 in his first race of the season.

“He had a solid race and he’s a guy that if we can get him going he can help us in that four, five, six, seven spot, somewhere in there,” Warriors first-year coach Jamie McCarty said.

The Warriors also registered scoring finishes from Garrett Allegra (25th, 19:27.00), Luke O’Neill (36th, 20:26.50), Billy Brown (39th, 20:42.20) and Jonathan Van Alsburg (48th, 21:16.40).

On the girls side, Sherando junior Emily Askew led the Warriors with a 16th-place finish in a time of 23:30.30. Sarah Brewer (22nd, 24:00.90), Isabel O’Neil (34th, 25:17.90), Maddy Martinez (37th, 25:21.40) and Gillian Liedke (40th, 25:39.00) also had top-five scoring finishes for the Warriors.

“Girl-wise, it wasn’t a great day for us,” McCarty said. “Trying to hope somebody was going to step forward, but we didn’t really have anything great today. But it’s early and Great Meadow isn’t until November and that’s still our target for both teams now. Hopefully we can keep working to that point.”

Skyline’s girls were led by McKayla Jackson’s 29th-place finish in a time of 24:31.60. She was followed by teammates Morgan Meredith (41st, 25:43.90), Reagan Grove (43rd, 26:34.70), Madison Haun (48th, 27:58.70) and Janet Nyiraamwami (54th, 28:49.80).

Handley’s Aaron Arslan (16:22.80) won the boys race, while James Wood’s Sophia Dorsey (21:05.00) was first in the girls competition.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com