Mixed results for Hawks, Falcons

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

WOODSTOCK — It was a bittersweet day for Central and Skyline on Tuesday in the Region 3A East cross country meet at Central’s North Street course.

The Falcons advanced as a team on the girls side, but did not make the cut in the boys meet. The Hawks also did not advance to the Group 3A state meet in the boys meet, but did send three runners to states individually.

“It’s tough sometimes when you’re coaching both the boys and the girls, you want both of them to have a great day,” Central coach Melissa Wright said. “I thought we had solid effort on our boys’ part. We knew coming into this meet it was going to be really difficult to advance. The competition was pretty stiff.”

Loudoun Valley won the girls meet with 27 points. Central finished fourth with 122 points. The top six teams and the top 10 runners not on the six teams qualify for next week’s Group 3A state meet at Great Meadows in The Plains. Loudoun Valley’s Ciara Donohue won the girls race in a time of 17:43.

Brentsville won the boys meet with 34 points. Skyline placed seventh with 161 points, followed by Central in eighth with 179. Loudoun Valley’s Andrew Hunter won the race and set a new course record with a time of 14:45.

Skyline’s Luke Cline placed 15th in the boys race, to earn all-Region 3A East honors. The Conference 28 meet was also held at Central last week.

“Luke was the only one that beat his time from last week,” Skyline coach Mike Tanner said. “So they were all off a bit for whatever reason, and you just can’t be off. Obviously, you can’t be that off, or you’re sitting at home.”

Central’s girls were led by the trio of Bethany Neri (18th, 19:48), Elsa Garcia (19th, 19:58) and Lexi Keller (26th, 20:26). Freshmen Madison Pence (40th, 21:13) and Ciarra Philpott (21:14) rounded out the top five for the Falcons.

“My top three went out really hard and Elsa and Bethany hung in there,” Wright said. “Lexi, I think just got caught in the back a little bit. She hung in there and ran with her heart. Those three made it happen for us today by being up so high.

“The freshmen continue to come along for us and are doing well.”

Neri said it helped her having her teammates there to push her.

“It was really awesome to have [Garcia] run with me for most of the race,” Neri said. “I think cross country is one of those sports where people don’t realize what a team sport it actually is. It’s really awesome to have Lexi [Keller] there and Elsa [Garcia] there like they usually are.”

Warren County’s Claire Morrow also advanced to the state meet. She finished 17th in a time of 19:43.

The junior said it was tough doing it without her teammates, who did not qualify, but she was very happy with how she ran.

“I’m proud of myself. I ran my race,” Morrow said. “I’m really excited [to advance to states]. Obviously, last year we went as a team, so it’s going to be different, but it’s great that I qualified. I’m really excited, and I can’t wait to run the race.”

Skyline’s Cline was very happy with how he did in the boys race. He finished 15th in 16:13, and said that he was able to run the race much like he did last week at the conference meet.

“That’s running a steady first mile, get my spot and hold on for as long as I can, and finish strong that last mile,” Cline said of his race plan. “I didn’t want to change my race plan at all, even though there were more kids. I felt like I did that well.”

Cline was able to pick up a few spots in the final mile, and said that’s always a goal in the back of his mind during the race. In Tuesday’s race, picking up a spot here and there helped him accomplish his goal of making all-region.

“I wanted the team to get through bad, but in the back of my mind I also knew senior year I wanted to make all-region,” Cline said. “I was 15th, which is the last spot to make all-region.”

Cline will be joined at states by teammates Justin Haggerty (31st, 16:52) and Demetry Arnold (39th, 17:17). Last year Cline was the only Skyline runner to advance to the state meet.

“I’m happy there’s two guys coming with me to states,” Cline said. “They worked hard all season. They worked just as hard as me, and they deserve it.”

Central’s Tristan Lucy-Speidel (22nd, 16:25) and sophomore Ivan Alvarado (25th, 16:33) also advanced to the state meet.

“Tristan wanted this day to happen. He made it happen because of all the hard work he did in the summer,” Wright said. “He came into his senior year with purpose. He has not lost focus of that from the beginning. I’m very pleased for him. Ivan just continues to get better each week. I’m excited to see what that young man can do in the future for us as well.”

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