Sherando, Central boys claim division championships

NEW MARKET – Sawyer Lucy-Speidel may have said it best.

“We did well as a team, but every team needs a leader,” said the Central cross-country runner at the 19th annual Stonewall Jackson High School Invitational.

“That leader?” he asked rhetorically, his voice trailing off.  All those surrounding Sawyer’s twin brother, Mason. knew precisely what one Lucy-Speidel was saying about another.

Mason Lucy-Speidel finished fifth among 80 boys runners to help the Falcon cross-country team finish first in Saturday’s “gray division” at the annual event.

This year, the Stonewall Invitational drew 25 teams, all but one from Virginia. The other arrived from North Carolina.

In total, when the boys and girls’ main races were combined with the “developmental races,” course experts said there were some 700 runners on the New Market Battlefield layout, which winds around a 3.1-portion of the historic course.

Following his brother to the finish line was Sawyer Lucy-Speidel, who finished two places behind Mason Lucy-Speidel in seventh (18:38).

Gus Wightman (eighth, 19:02), Chase Rimel (12th, 19:26), Colin Bradley-Connolly (17th, 19:47) and Thomas Gilmore (20th, 19:53) rounded out the top six for head coach Melissa Wright and her longtime assistant, Larry Bullock.

That quintet continued to follow the Wright-Bullock planning-preaching teamwork in attempting to lower the overall score and, thus, accomplish their mission.

“Our top guys finished anywhere from fifth to 20th, that’s about right for us,” said Wightman.

Of course, as Sawyer Lucy-Speidel said, there has to be a leader.

Having played football in 2015, Mason Lucy-Speidel broke onto the cross-country scene this fall.

He ran a 17:15 over the three-mile North Street course at a recent weekday meet managed by Central High School. He timed an 18:15 effort over a lengthier course at the Eastern Mennonite High School invitational.

Saturday under bright skies and warming temperatures, Mason Lucy-Speidel knocked out an 18:23. Sawyer Lucy-Speidel was close behind.

“I like to run in temperatures like this; it was nice. I just wanted to give it all I had and hoped to place in the Top 20,” Mason Lucy-Speidel said.

Sawyer Lucy-Speidel – who stayed within eyeshot of his brother, as their times were within 15 seconds of each other throughout the ridge-themed course – said Mason Lucy-Speidel never fell behind the Top 11.

Rappahannock County’s Gavin Jenkins won easily with a time of 17:29 to earn the gold medal in the “gray” results.

Stonewall Invitational director and General head coach Mary Clanahan and her athletic department divided the boys and girls’ races in two divisions: “gray” for independent schools and VHSL (or equivalent) Group A and AA teams.

The “blue division” included schools with enrollments of 3A or better.

Hayden Williams (4th, 18:29), David Ricks (5th, 18:46), Isaac Chapman (8th, 18:53) and Jacob Carr (9th, 19:10) were among the leading boys’ runners in the “blue” race. All but Ricks hail from Sherando; he comes from Skyline High School.

Central (first place with a low-score of 49 points) was followed by locals, Strasburg (fifth with 149 points) and Stonewall Jackson, which was sixth with 160 points in the boys “gray” division.

In the “blue” division coach Jamie McCarty’s Sherando Warriors defended the team gold medal-performance of 2015.

The boys’ team (64) outran seven other schools, including Skyline (156).

On the girls’ side, Sherando reclaimed the “blue” championship trophy it won a year ago. The Warriors finished first with 49 points over six other competitors. One of the latter was Skyline (124).

Strasburg (107) finished fourth among the “gray” girls’ runners, ahead of Stonewall Jackson (152) and Central (167).

“We love to come here,” said McCarty. “It is a very challenging course and we think if we can run well here, we can run well anywhere.”

Sophomore Warrior Camryn Ubert won the “blue” race in 2015, but she has been resting through this part of the season, attempting to heal up from minor injuries; but all that meant was that McCarty’s “big three” advanced their roles.

Sophomore Olivia Couillard finished second among 44 participants on Saturday, clocking a time of 21:19.

Couillard led teammates Paige Conner (eighth, 22:08), Stella Williams (11th, 22:32), Katie Sommerfield (12th, 22:42), Hannah Lothrop (16th, 23:14) and Gillian Liedke (17th, 23:28) across the finish line.

“Those are the kinds of runner you build your program around. They could challenge for first in a lot of races,” McCarty said of Couillard, Conner and Williams. It could be Katie’s in there or Hannah or Gillian, but they’re all competing,” said McCarty.

“It was a good test for me,” Couillard said. “The competition was maybe better than I had thought. There were a lot of runners out there.”

Over a week ago Skyline coach Rodger Seemiller took his team to the Oatlands Plantation in Loudoun County where he said there were more than 100 teams entered. In the girls’ race alone, 300 were participating on the course.

That meet helped Seemiller’s No. 1 runner at the New Market Battlefield:

“There were probably more runners there,” said sophomore Carrie Hotek.

Hotek, who won the Central High School Invitational and the Knights Crossing Invitational earlier, timed out at 21:39, good enough for fourth place in the large school division. She was followed by Skyline teammate Sabrina Wilkins.

Wilkins, a freshman, finished fifth in the “blue” division with a time of 21:46.

“Not a bad day for our girls,” Seemiller said.

It was a good day, too, for Strasburg’s resurgent girls team.

Grace Dellinger (22:58) and Rachel Palmer (22:59) finished fifth and sixth respectively in the “gray” division.

Hannah Dellinger (22:38) came in 11th in that division, followed Abby Davis (34th, 25:54).

“We’re encouraged about what we did here today,” said Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy. “Grace and Rachel and Hannah were all in the top 11. We’ve just got to bring those other four or five girls up with the pack.”

The host Stonewall girls were led by LuLu Funkhouser (8th, 23:10). Brandy Webb, a Generals runner who qualified for the Group 1A cross-country championship in 2015, finished 20th.

Unfortunately, she said she was elbowed in the second of the three-mile tour. She rolled her ankle,  causing swelling. Rather than run with a right shoe that no longer fit, she finished the race shoeless.

“Next time I’ll beat her,” she said in the team tent area.

“I don’t know whether she placed, but she should have,” SJHS coach Mary Clanahan said.

For the Strasburg High School boys’ team, Ryan Davis (16th, 19:38) was the highest finisher.

Stonewall Jackson’s boys were led by Kaelen Sorrells (15th, 19:32).

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