Strasburg’s Tischler leads locals at Apple Blossom 10 K
WINCHESTER – Rachel Tischler is still working hard.
Tischler won about everything a young woman could win at Strasburg High School in 2015.
Championing various high school meets leading up to her post-season senior year (’15) for the Rams, she completed her time as a cross-country standout and track athlete of the year.
She placed 11th individually at the VHSL Group 2A state cross-country championship, pushing her team to fourth place overall.
In track, she placed second in the 3,200 meters and third in the 1,600, earning all-state status.
Deciding on the University of Virginia as her college home, Tischler is finishing her first year, hoping to major in leadership and public service. It is a division for which she must be admitted, even though she is enrolled in the general population. She was salutatorian for her senior class. Tischler also has a concentration in violin.
Yet her interscholastic/intercollegiate racing career is over. She runs on a club team that competes with other such voluntary squads in meets, for instance, at Charlottesville and James Madison University.
Saturday, at the 35th annual Apple Blossom Valley Health 10K, Tischler placed 45th overall in an estimated field of 1,000 participants running the streets of this Apple Capital.
Her time of 40 minutes, 48 seconds over the 6.2-mile course was just off her personal best of 39:15, but came within the 40-minute mark she was shooting for.
So the question was asked, after her dominating senior year at SHS, and looking for the less pressing competition of club sports, did she take some time off after her high school days were over to enjoy the fruits of her productive high school running career? This was a girl who ran daily through the winter of 2014-’15 daily as she prepped for the Apple Blossom 10K, 2015 style.
Looking at her mom on the Handley campus, Tischler smiled wide after Saturday’s meeting was over.
“Well, I had an injury over the winter and so this is my first big race out. But I wanted to run this one because it’s such a wonderful setting. It’s just a great honor to keep running,” said Tischler, 19.
She has certainly kept running.
Tischler injured a hip and underwent concentrated physical therapy to get ready for this spring’s event. In the fall she ran a 24:20 6K at James Madison and came back to do a 20:34 10K in at Charlottesville.
She took a vacation with her family last summer after she graduated for Strasburg. They visited the West, including stops in the desert in Utah and tripped through the Great Northwest. She did a lot of sightseeing – but never quit on her pursuit.
“I ran in the Mojavi Desert and ran trails along the Pacific.
“I never stopped,” she said. “I just kept running.”
Tischler was but one of several locals who placed highly in the $8,300 race.
Money was awarded for first-through-fifth-place finishers overall. Cash also went to certain age participants, including first and second place men’s/women’s in the Master’s and Grand Masters events and a prize for the first and U.S. event finishers in both genders.
Not only did Tischler finished in the top 45 overall, but she also won her age (15-19) division.
Other top finishers among locals included Mario Zuniga, 51, of Front Royal, finishing 19th overall (37:42), Zac Barton, 18, of Middletown, whose 38-flat was good enough for 24th; Joshua Inicki, 30, also of Front Royal (39.27), 36th; Sherando cross-country coach/track assistant Jamie McCarty, 38th, 39:55; and Sherando senior distance runner Thomas Powars, 18, of Stephens City, 54th with a time of 41:21.
McCarty, a James Wood grad, improved his time from 43:37 in 2015.
What made the difference in this run?
“Just chasing around good cross-country runners at Sherando,” he said.
Brenda Schrank, 44, of Winchester, finished 40th overall with a time of 40:07.
She estimated she has run in 16 of these events and has won as many age-group races as she has participated in.
“I remember going into my first one, we filled up just one half of the (Handley Boulevard, divided by an island of grass and trees),” said Schrank. “This one we filled up both lanes, going all the way back up the street.
Saturday’s race was run in cool temperatures with just a hint of mist at the starting time.
Hillary Too, 36, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, won the race with a time of 29:08; Ashelaw Meketa, 28, of Washington, D.C., was second with a time of 30:12; Girma Gebra, of Washington D.C., finished third in 31:06; Kevin Shirk, 36, Stephenson, ran a 32:04 for fourth-place and Josh McDonald, 24, Lynchburg, was fifth in 33:05.