Rams’ Smalls leads sweep

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

STRASBURG — Logan Smalls was in pain, but he wasn’t going to let it stop him.

The Strasburg sophomore cross country runner finished the race on a sore ankle to help lead the Rams to a dominant win in a tri-meet on Wednesday. Strasburg swept the boys and girls races against Clarke County and Rappahannock County.

Smalls sprained his ankle in the Stonewall Jackson Invitational on Saturday and was unable to continue. On Wednesday, he finished fourth in a time of 18:33.

“This morning my dad was like, ‘you’re not going to stop, are you?,’ and I was like, ‘I’m going to try and finish it all.’ That’s what I kept thinking about this whole time,” Smalls said. “It hurt after the second mile. But it was my last mile, I didn’t want to quit.”

Smalls came out for cross country for the first time this season, and has made big progress. He started out the season as the No. 7 runner for Strasburg, and finished second for the team on Wednesday for the first time.

“i think it is the best race I’ve ran this year. It feels really good,” Smalls said.

Max Middleton was the top runner for Strasburg, finishing second overall with a time of 17:51, just five seconds behind Rappahannock County’s Gavin Jenkins.

Middleton said Saturday’s race at Stonewall Jackson took a lot out of him.

“I was just a little tired, but I can’t really use that as an excuse,” Middleton said.

The boys team won with a score of 27, followed by Clarke County with 43 and Rappahannock County with 71.

Strasburg’s depth has been the key to the team’s success this season and that continued on Wednesday. Strasburg’s No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 runners (Nealon Davis, Brian Scholten, Ryan Davis and Nic Campbell) were within 13 seconds of each other.

“The boys are such a tight pack, and they work so well together,” Strasburg coach jeff Rudy said. “They feed off each other’s pace and enthusiasm and natural competitiveness, not only within the team but on the cross country course as well.”

The girls race was much closer. Strasburg won with 40 points, followed by Rappahannock County with 41 and Clarke County 42.

Rappahannock County’s Emily Allen won the race with a time of 20:05. Rappahannock’s normal No. 1 runner Julia Wood did not race. Strasburg’s Grace Dellinger was second with a time of 20:48.

Dellinger said it wasn’t her best race, but she was happy with how the team did.

“I think as a team we did pretty good today,” Dellinger said. “Our second place, Rachel Tischler, did really good today — that definitely helped.”

Tischler finished sixth in a time of 22:09, while Cheyanne Combs was right behind her in seventh with a 22:32.

“The first mile was a little bit fast, but I think I settled into my pace,” Tischler said. “It felt good in the middle, and I just kind of went for it at the end.”

Strasburg showed its depth on the girls side as well as Caroline Miller placed 12th in 24:23 and Sarah Peer was 13th in 25:06.

“I think everyone did really well,” Tischler said. “We just kind of use each other and work together. The end of the snake is just as important as the No. 1 spot — everyone’s important.”

The Rams were also running for a cause. Strasburg was celebrating breast cancer awareness month by wearing pink socks.

The cross country team and the volleyball team have joined together to help donate money and spread awareness. The volleyball team will wear pink for tonight’s volleyball match with Madison County.

“The volleyball team asked us to participate and help spread awareness to a very, very important cause,” Rudy said. “[Thursday night] the volleyball team will have a bake sale. Hopefully, some of our team is baking food to contribute to it, and our team will be at the volleyball match as well to support them just like they were here to support us and collectively work together to raise awareness and contribute money to help stamping out this terrible disease.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com