Rams’ Tischler, Campbell help pace teams

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

EARLYSVILLE — As Rachel Tischler crossed the finish line Wednesday, she couldn’t help but smile.

The Strasburg senior surprised even herself as she finished ninth in the Group 2A East girls cross country meet at Panorama Farms.

“I guess I went into this not even expecting to medal,” Tischler said. “I was very excited with the place that I got. I felt really strong in the first and second mile. The third mile was a little bit rough, but it’s a really hilly course. I know if I’m tired then I’m giving it my all.”

Tischler finished in a time of 20:49 to helped lead the Rams to a fourth-place finish as a team. Strasburg placed third as a team in the boys meet. The top six teams and the top 10 individuals not on one of the six teams advanced to next week’s Group 2A state meet at Great Meadows in The Plains.

Tischler had company as she finished the race, as Stonewall Jackson freshman Lulu Funkhouser placed 10th in a time of 20:52.

Funkhouser was in ninth for a large part of the race, but Tischler passed her in the last mile.

“When we were coming down this last stretch, I saw her in front of me,” Tischler said. “Usually I like using the downhill to my advantage. So I passed her on the downhill coming around to the final stretch.”

The race suited Funkhouser, who said she enjoys running up hills, and she had a tough one to run up around the two-mile mark on Wednesday.

“There was one hill, I was like ‘whew,'” Funkhouser said. “That one hill it felt like it went on forever.”

Funkhouser said she felt good about how she ran, and is happy to be going to the state meet.

“I’m so excited, being a freshman and going,” Funkhouser said.

Funkhouser’s teammate is also going to states, as Stonewall’s Brandy Webb placed 14th. The sophomore finished in a time of 21:00, and will be making her second consecutive trip to the state meet.

Webb said she started off slowly this year because she didn’t train as much as she should have in the offseason, but now she’s getting back into a groove. She said regionals was a lot better this year because the whole team was there.

“Last year all I had was two others and it was fun, but it was kind of lonely, too,” Webb said. “Now we get the whole team. It’s just cool to share it with other people.”

Webb and Funkhouser almost had the whole team come with them to states. The Generals finished seventh as a team, just two points out of the last qualifying spot.

Maggie Walker won the boys and girls team meets. Maggie Walker’s Khloe Pointer won the girls meet in a time of 18:51. Maggie Walker’s Ryan Buscaglia won the boys meet in a time of 16:21.

Strasburg’s boys team had high expectations entering the meet, but didn’t fare as well as they had hoped. Strasburg sophomore Dylan Campbell led the way for the Rams as he placed 17th in a time of 17:35.

“I felt pretty good,” Campbell said. “I wanted my team to be up there with me. But I didn’t know where they were, so I picked a George Mason guy and he kind of helped me through. Once I got to the two-mile, I heard [Strasburg] coach [Jeff] Rudy yelling, so I picked it up.”

Around the two-mile mark, Campbell passed teammate Max Middleton, who is usually Strasburg’s top runner. Middleton finished 18th in a time of 17:39.

“Max had a bad day. Every race is a learning experience and we’re looking forward to the state meet and going up against some great competition,” Rudy said. “On the boys side, not all our runners had a good day, but Dylan Campbell stepped up and took the lead. That’s the beauty of this sport, is that with depth and with competition, when one of our people falter, or when the team doesn’t run as well as they could, you can have fantastic people step up.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Pedro Jacuinde became the first General since 2010 to qualify for the state meet on the boys side. Jacuinde finished in 28th in a time of 18:08.

“He’s stoked. He’s really tried hard this year and I’m really excited for him,” Stonewall Jackson coach Mary Clanahan said.

Clanahan said that even though the girls team didn’t advance to states, she’s very happy with how the youthful squad did.

“It’s been nine years since I’ve taken a girls team, and to realize that those five girls, my top five, are coming back next year,” Clanahan said, “when I see what’s coming out next year — we’re happy.”

Strasburg’s Cheyanne Combs was 29th (21:50), Grace Dellinger was 37th (22:04) and Caroline Miller was 47th (22:36).

Rudy said he was very pleased with Miller’s performance, considering she did not run in last week’s Conference 35 meet due to the flu.

“For her to come back, and she really ran a great race, scoring some really good points for us,” Rudy said. “An exciting day for her. It’s good to have Caroline back.”

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