Strasburg boys, Central girls take county titles

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

NEW MARKET — After coming up short last season, Strasburg’s boys cross country team wanted to bring the Shenandoah County trophy back home. The Rams did exactly that.

Strasburg won Shenandoah County meet on the boys side with 22 points, while Central was second with 36 points and Stonewall Jackson third with 75.

“It feels so great getting the county trophy back,” Strasburg junior Max Middleton said. “Last year we got beat by not even a second, it was so close, and then this year we finally get to get it back.”

Central won the girls race with 31 points, while Strasburg had 46 points and Stonewall Jackson had 53 points.

Strasburg swept the races individually. Middleton fought off Central’s Tristan Lucy-Speidel to win the boys race in 18:17. Strasburg freshman Grace Dellinger won the girls race in a time of 21:51.

Middleton and Lucy-Speidel were right beside each other for most of the race, but Middleton was able to pull away as they came down the hill heading into the last stretch.

Middleton said he enjoyed competing against Lucy-Speidel.

“I think it kind of helps me, because when you have competition you actually tend to do better,” Middleton said.

Lucy-Speidel finished in a time of 18:24, and said he wanted to keep up with Middleton as long as he could.

“At first he was in front so I was like, ‘OK, I’ll stay with him,'” Lucy-Speidel said. “Most of the first and second mile I was out in front, but then a little bit near the end of the third he came up front. I was trying to stay with him, but he’s a great racer.”

The girls race was also competitive for a while as Central’s trio of Lexi Keller, Bethany Neri and Elsa Garcia were hanging with Dellinger. The Strasburg freshman started to pull away during the second mile and won the race by 19 seconds.

Dellinger said it helped her that she ran on the course earlier this season in the Stonewall Jackson Invitational.

“I guess since this is my second time running this course I knew what to expect,” Dellinger said. “There were a lot of hills, but overall I felt pretty good.”

The hilly course can be very challenging for the runners, but Keller was able to make it work for her. After going up the big hill, Keller was able to take it up a notch for the final mile.

Keller was able to pass Stonewall Jackson’s Charlotte Funkhouser on the final stretch to finish second in a time of 22:10, two seconds before Funkhouser.

“I picked a target, and I just tried to beat the girl in front of me,” Keller said. “I know that every place counts, and if I could beat just one person from another team it might help my team as a whole get a better place.”

Neri finished fourth in a time of 22:28, and Garcia was fifth in a time of 22:51.

Keller said it was nice to win as a team, but she enjoys competing against other runners as much as anything.

“The other teams are really great, and friendly and they talk to us and they’re really kind,” Keller said. “It’s nice to beat them, but it’s also nice to compete with them as well.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Jailyn Dellinger finished sixth with a time of 23:03, and Strasburg’s Rachel Tischler was seventh in 23:11.

Ryan Davis finished third for the Rams with a time of 18:48, while Logan Smalls was fifth (18:52), followed by Dylan Campbell (sixth, 19:05) and Nic Campbell (seventh, 19:16).

“The boys did what they wanted to do,” said Strasburg assistant coach Katherine Klus, who was filling in for head coach Jeff Rudy. “They’re young, and developing into strong and consistent runners and the same with the girls.”

Central’s Ivan Alvarado was fourth in the boys race in a time of 18:51.

Pedro Jacuinde led Stonewall’s boys team, by placing eighth in a time of 19:24. Stonewall Jackson coach Mary Clanahan said she was happy with both of her squads.

“We’re all happy. I’m real pleased [with the girls], and we’re real pleased with our our guys,” Clanahan said. “The guys are coming along. They’re still really young. We only have one senior guy, and we’ve got some kids that are coming up next year that are some sleepers. The kids are still developing, so were real pleased with them.”

For both the Falcons and the Rams this was the last race before the postseason. Both teams will run in the Bull Run District next week, and then Strasburg will be back at New Market Battlefield Park for the Conference 35 meet, while Central will host the Conference 28 meet.

“I feel like we keep getting stronger each week and hopefully we’ll fare well come end of the season,” Central coach Melissa Wright said. “It’s definitely a tough conference that we compete in, and it’s going to take their best race at the end of the season to help us to advance.”

Page County, which was scoring only against Stonewall, also ran on Thursday and finished behind the Generals in both races.