Sherando sweeps Stonewall Invitational

By Jim Laise-

NEW MARKET-Sherando’s boys and girls were the respective overall team champs Saturday in the 17th annual Stonewall Jackson Invitational cross-country meet on the New Market Battlefield.

The 22-team competition was waged in four events with the “Blue” and “Gray” divisions competing on the varsity level. Also, boys’ and girls’ races in the “developmental”–or junior varsity–portion of the meet were held. Out of the varsity races came the overall tally for the meet.

Of those 22 teams, 12 were entered in the “Blue” division, including Central and Sherando. The “Gray” division was composed of 10 teams, including Stonewall Jackson and Strasburg.

Medals and trophies were awarded for top finishers in the “Blue” and “Gray” divisions, along with hardware awarded to overall teams and individuals.

Sherando’s boys (43 points) finished ahead of second-place Central (77) in the boys “Blue” division, while the Warrior girls (39) ended up ahead of the second-place Falcons (56) in the same divisional race.

The “Gray” division saw Strasburg (124) in third place in the girls meet, followed by Stonewall Jackson (143) in seventh. The Generals hosted the competition. Strasburg’s boys finished second (41) and Stonewall Jackson sixth (148) in this bracket.

In the overall boys’ division, Sherando (65) won out over second-place Wilson Memorial (97), third finisher Strasburg (111) and fourth-place Central (116).

“We’re very, very pleased with this result,” said Sherando coach Jamie McCarty. “It’s a step in the right direction. Last year we were sixth in the [Northwestern] district, so we’ve put a lot of work into this.”

Thomas Powars finished second individually overall under a warm sun on a course fraught with inclines and declines. His time of 17:48.42 put him in the runner-up spot behind overall champ Abrham Amine (17:36.19) of Harrisonburg. Powars was followed by teammate Trevor Whiteside (third), who clocked an 18:03.20.

“Our first two guys-Tom and Trevor-really stood out, while the back-side of our lineup is still a work in progress,” said McCarty. “This is a good meet for us because we compare well with this level of competition. We should do well. Today, I think it was more of a matter of where we placed rather than times.

“Times don’t win the team event, but places do. I think our people have learned that.”

Powars is a good example.

“I used a little bit of science and a little bit of common sense,” said the Warriors’ No. 1 finisher. “The course looks flat, but it’s really hilly in some places, so I had to think about what I was doing.

“As I came to a hill, I decided how best to run it for me, not necessarily what the competition was doing.”

Powars’ No. 1 challenger was Amine, who toured the 3.2-mile course some 12 minutes and 23 seconds ahead of the runner-up from Sherando.

“In racing, you’re always trying to knock off the guy in front of you, but in this case, it was also a matter of running the course the best way I could. You just do the next logical thing. It’s the philosophy of our coach,” said Powars.

Powars ran about 18 seconds ahead of Whiteside’s 18:03.20 time.

“Thomas is having a great season,” said McCarty. “He had a good summer when he really committed himself to the sport. For Trevor, this is really his first real year of running after sharing some time with some other sports. It’s paying off.”

Strasburg (111) and Central (116) finished third and fourth overall to Sherando and boys’ runner-up Wilson Memorial (97).

The Rams placed two runners in the top 13 individual overall boys’ race. They were Max Middleton (7th, 18:24.44) and Ryan Davis (13th, 18:43.07).

The Falcons were led in the overall standings by Tristan Lucy-Speidel (8th, 18:30.27); Josiah Selby (24th, 19:06.78) and Wyatt Robinson (25th, 19:10.90).

Lucy-Speidel was racing after a two-meet layoff due to a toe injury. Meanwhile Selby was a pleasant surprise.

“In the boys’ race, Tristan continues to come back from an injury and Josiah Selby — for being a young runner — really did a good job,” said Central coach Melissa Wright.

In the overall girls’ race, the Warriors (72) out-distanced second-place Central (103) and sixth-place Strasburg (218).

“Our best girl turned out to be a freshman,” McCarty said of Paige Conner. “She’s been a real surprise for us this year and has sort have pulled the rest of the team along with her.”

Conner finished seventh overall behind girls’ individual winner Julia Wood (20:38).

Another local freshman, Strasburg’s Grace Dellinger, finished fourth overall with a time of 21:31. The first-year already was the winner in the Eastern Mennonite Invitational earlier in the fall.

“I didn’t have a specific time in mind, I just wanted to run for a place. I got out in front and stayed there. I continue to be amazed [by my overall performance], but I also know I need to keep working hard,” Dellinger said.

Finishing behind Dellinger and Conner was Central veteran Bethany Neri. Her 21:57 time was good enough for eighth overall.

“Bethany Neri continues to work hard, and I’m proud of her. She really shined today,” said Wright.

Strasburg’s sixth-place overall girls finish (218) may have been due to two participants who ran sick and one who was left at home due to illness.

“It was a good day for racing. I thought the girls did well considering how we have been impacted by the flu,” said Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy. “Some of the others stepped up and fought through illness.”

Rachel Tischler (22nd overall, 22:57) and Cheyanne Combs (27th, 23:15) picked up the slack.

The Rams (124) finished third in the “Gray” division ahead of seventh-place Stonewall Jackson (143). The Generals’ girls finished 10th overall (263).

Charlotte Funkhouser (13th, 22:21) and Brandy Webb (30th, 23:26) were the top girls overall finishers for the Generals, who hosted the meet.

Other top 25 individual overall finishers among the local girls included Sherando’s Katie Rogers (10th, 22:04), Central’s Lexi Keller (14th, 22:29), Warriors Haley Powers (15th, 22:36) and Andi Crosby (20th, 22:54) and Falcon Elsa Garcia (22:56).

Top 25 overall finishers among the boys included those mentioned along with Sherando’s Thomas Shea (8th, 18:33.74) and James Kelly (9th, 18:50.85) and Central’s Wyatt Robinson (17th, 19:10.90), Gus Wightman (19th, 19:24.47) and Thomas Gilmore (20th, 19:28.29).