Rams have plenty to smile about in boys state meet

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

THE PLAINS – Strasburg’s boys cross country team didn’t quite get what they were hoping for, but the Rams still had plenty of reasons to smile.

Strasburg placed third in the Group 2A boys state meet at the Great Meadow course on Friday. The Rams were hoping to walk away with a trophy and a spot on the podium, but the Virginia High School League only gave trophies to the top two teams this year, instead of three like in year’s past.

“To even get top three is awesome,” Strasburg junior Max Middleton said. “I couldn’t imagine at the beginning of the season us even getting to states.”

“Just knowing that our team did really good today — that’s a big plus,” Strasburg sophomore Dylan Campbell said. “We had a goal last season and that goal was to come here and do well in the state meet.”

Middleton earned all-state honors with his 13th-place finish in the 2A boys meet with a time of 17:08. It was the second year in a row Middleton made the top 15 in the state.

Middleton said it was hard running in the cold weather, and the wind made it even worse.

“It was tough,” Middleton said. “You got all this adrenaline running through you, but the wind jut takes it out of you.”

Campbell finished 22nd in a time of 17:34. Campbell said that he tried to stay with Middleton for as long as he could, but Middleton pulled away in the third mile. Campbell said it was tough in the cold, but he knew he had to do well for the team.

“Adrenaline really helped me through the race,” Campbell said. “I felt tired, but I knew I had to do it for my team. We had a goal coming into this. The goal was to place high and walk out with a trophy. So I knew I had to do it for the team, and for the seniors for their last race.”

Maggie Walker on the 2A boys race with 26 points, while Floyd County was second with 108, and Strasburg finished with 123.

In the Group 3A boys race, Skyline senior Luke Cline was the top area finisher. The senior placed 40th in a time of 17:02, while senior teammate Justin Haggerty was 53rd in 17:17. Skyline junior Demetry Arnold was 84th in a time of 17:55.

“They stepped up. Justin Haggerty took it out at the beginning,” Skyline coach Mike Tanner said. “He actually led for us the first half of the race, and then Luke took over. They both ran awesome times. All three of them ran PR’s for a 5k course. To do that at states the last race, especially for those two seniors, is just fantastic. I’m very pleased, very proud.”

Central’s Tristan Lucy-Speidel finished 56th in a time of 17:21, and teammate Ivan Alvarado was 81st in 17:50.

“They were excited to be here and to run at states,” Central coach Melissa Wright said. “I think Tristan finished well. He had a great race, and ran I think one of his best times as well. Ivan wasn’t too far behind Tristan and ran a great race as well.”

Stonewall Jackson junior Pedro Jacuinde was 58th in the 2A boys race in a time of 18:21.

Strasburg has a very young squad, with only senior Nic Campbell set to graduate this year. Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy said the experience was a great one for his young squad.

“We are only losing Nic Campbell to graduation, so you have a young, hungry team coming back with a lot of talent,” Rudy said. “It will be exciting to see with a little more growth and maturity and miles underneath their legs what the future holds.”