Hawks boys earn second place

Central boys and girls also qualify for regional championships

By Brad Fauber

WOODSTOCK — Skyline senior Luke Cline wanted to improve upon last year’s performance at the Conference 28 cross country championships held Wednesday at Central High School’s home North Street course.

He did that, besting his 10th-place showing from last season with a third-place finish in the boys race Wednesday, guaranteeing himself a spot in next week’s Region 3A East meet on the same course. It was a proud accomplishment for the senior, but it wasn’t at the top of his list of priorities.

“It was really about the team today,” Cline said shortly after finishing the race along the 3-mile course. “We really wanted to take the whole team to regionals. I wasn’t concerned individually, I just knew that every spot I got would help the team towards the goal of making it to regionals.”

Cline and his teammates had plenty to smile about following the meet’s awards ceremony, as the Hawks were awarded the runner-up trophy. Skyline (62 points) finished 28 points behind boys champion Loudoun Valley (34) and qualified as a team for the regional meet.

Central’s boys finished third with 67 points and claimed the final team qualifying spot.

Skyline coach Mike Tanner said they came to compete.

“We thought we could steal one from [Loudoun Valley]. We had our number two runner [junior Tanner Steed] sick. He was our number five runner today, so that would’ve been a big 17-point swing there,” he said.

Cline posted the best individual performance among all local boys and girls runners with his third-place time of 16 minutes, 23 seconds.

The senior was in second place behind eventual boys champion Andrew Hunter (16:07), of Loudoun Valley, for most of Wednesday’s race, but Cline was passed by John Champe’s Donald Roessler during the closing stretch of the final mile.

Cline said he realized he was in great position about a mile into the race and he tried as best as he could to keep pace with Hunter while creating distance between himself and the rest of the field. Cline said a quick glance back during the closing stretch of the final mile revealed that Roessler was right on his tail.

“I try to keep my eyes forward and coming into the last section I peeked back and … I noticed there were a couple guys coming,” said Cline, who was a Group 3A state qualifier last season. “I was coming down the hill and he came flying past me. I knew it was a matter of time. I tried to hang on to it the best I could but it’s hard to finish with that guy. He’s a great runner.”

Skyline also got top 10 finishes from senior Justin Haggerty (seventh, 16:44) and junior Demetry Arnold (10th, 16:50). Christian Madden (21st, 17:34) and Steed (23rd, 17:37) rounded out the scoring for the Hawks.

Central senior Tristan Lucy-Speidel arrived at the finish line shortly after Cline, as he posted a fifth-place finish with a time of 16 minutes, 32 seconds. Lucy-Speidel gradually gained ground throughout the race and sprinted past John Champe’s Tanner Walker with about 50 feet left to jump into the fifth spot.

Falcons head coach Melissa Wright said he loves to run and is a competitor.

“He’s very quiet about it inside and I think he just put a lot of preparation both in running and mentally to prepare for this day. He went out like a champ and kept going,” she said.

The Falcons boys also got scoring finishes from Ivan Alvarado (11th, 16:56), Wyatt Robinson (14th, 17:12), Nick Waldron (18th, 17:28) and Josiah Selby (19th, 17:28). Central finished just three points ahead of John Champe (70) for the third and final team qualifying spot.

Central’s boys team started what would turn out to be a successful day for both Falcons squads, as the girls team also qualified for the regional meet with a third-place finish (82 points). Loudoun Valley, led in the girls race by conference champion Ciara Donohue (17:41), won the girls team event with 19 points. John Champe (66) was second, Warren County (143) sixth and Skyline (184) seventh.

“Coming into today I felt like there were some really strong teams that we were going up against. I thought that if everybody ran a great race we had a chance,” Wright said.

“Some of my runners ran great races and some of them hung in there and maintained. So we were optimistic but cautiously so.”

Junior Lexi Keller led Central’s girls on Wednesday, placing sixth with a time of 19:25. Keller settled into eighth-place for the first two miles before jumping ahead two spots over the final mile of the course.

“It was a very tight race so that made it very stressful, but it’s kind of helpful having a pack like that because they keep you going,” said Keller, a state qualifier last year. “You want to slow down but you just keep going because you know you have to keep up with them if you want to advance.

“I knew that if I wanted to advance and get a good place, I knew I had to go because it was so tight,” Keller added of her final push over the last mile. “I just knew that I had to get going.”

Falcons senior Bethany Neri posted an 11th-place finish in 19:55, while fellow senior Elsa Garcia (20:19) placed 15th. Ciarra Philpott (24th, 21:21) and Madison Pence (26th, 21:46) rounded out the scoring for Central’s girls.

Junior Claire Morrow was the lone runner from either Warren County team to advance to the regional meet, as she placed ninth in the girls race with a time of 19:37.

The top 10 individuals in each race earned regional qualification.

Morrow jumped out to a great start as she was in third place after the first mile, but she gradually slid down as the race progressed.

Wildcats head coach Rebecca Webster said Morrow said that after the first mile she fell back a little bit.

“She started feeling it back at the first [mile], because her first mile was fast. It may have been a little faster than she anticipated coming out,” Webster said.

The Region 3A East championship meet will be held at Central’s North Street course at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com