Athlete of the Week: Central’s Mason Lucy-Speidel putting together another solid postseason
WOODSTOCK – Central High School senior Mason Lucy-Speidel set two goals for himself ahead of last week’s Region 2B Cross County Championships at Panorama Farms in Earlysville.
Knowing he probably couldn’t keep pace with Robert E. Lee’s Oliver Wilson-Cook, Lucy-Speidel wanted to place second in the regional race. He also wanted to improve upon his time from the Bull Run District Championships two weeks ago. Lucy-Speidel crossed both off his list.
The Falcon senior put together a runner-up finish at the Region 2B race on Nov. 1, crossing the finish line behind Wilson-Cook in a time of 16:31.
Not only did Lucy-Speidel knock 16 seconds off his district-winning time from two weeks ago, but he completed the Panorama Farms course 50 seconds faster than he did in the regional championship in 2016, when he placed eighth overall.
“I feel like it’s a product from just last year’s track and cross country running, kind of that base, the buildup of finally coming in this season and just helping my overall improvement,” Lucy-Speidel, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for Oct. 30-Nov. 5, said of his improvement from last season. “I think it’s just a combination of all the miles I’ve run for track and cross country kind of accumulating and finally showing up.”
Lucy-Speidel’s successful strategy at the regional meet was a familiar one. He stuck to his usual plan of opening the race at a steady pace, preferring not to try to keep up with the lead pack and burn out too fast, but rather keep that group within striking distance and save his push for the second half of the race.
At Panorama Farms, which features more hills than most courses the Falcons have run on this season, Lucy-Speidel said, he had an added advantage due to his small stature.
“I think on that course probably my biggest advantage is that back, really big, long hill because I’m not a real tall guy so I can usually get up the hills pretty easily compared to guys who are (taller),” he said.
Lucy-Speidel, who only began running cross country last season, said his previous seasons playing for Central’s football team give him an added boost when running inclines.
“I think one of his strengths is his strength,” Falcons cross country coach Melissa Wrigth said, “and I think that comes from football and the training he had there. He’s got a lot of power. But I think this guy has still a lot of room to continue to improve. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.”
Lucy-Speidel, who comes from a family of distance runners, quickly emerged as one of the Falcons’ top racers last fall – he won the Conference 35 meet and was the top Central placer in the Region 2A East Championships – and has continued that status this season. In Central’s first two postseason meets, he’s been the first Falcon across the finish line.
“I think part of it is I’m just peaking at the right time,” Lucy-Speidel said. “I know come posteasoon is when it really matters to get up there in the placing, to make sure the team does well. But I think just part of it is it’s come to that point where my training’s kicking in the most, all the miles over the summer and at the beginning of the season are finally paying off and coming through.”
At the regional meet, Lucy-Speidel was one of three Falcons to finish in the top 10, as senior Gus Wightman (16:51) and sophomore Chase Rimel (17:04) placed seventh and eighth, respectively. Lucy-Speidel’s twin brother, Sawyer, placed 12th, giving Central four all-region performers.
Central as a team finished as the region runner-up for the third straight year, finishing 11 points behind team champion Wilson Memorial (48 points).
“I think we were a little bit disappointed this year, actually, because we were kind of hoping with Maggie Walker not being in our region we’d be able to finally be regional champs,” Lucy-Speidel said. “And when Wilson Memorial came and got first over us I think we were honestly a little bit disappointed overall. But at the end of the day second’s second. It’s better than third, so you can’t be too disappointed.”
Next up for Lucy-Speidel and the rest of the Falcons is the VHSL Class 2 State Championships on Saturday at Great Meadow in The Plains. Last season Lucy-Speidel placed 14th to earn an all-state medal, while Central finished second as a team for the second straight year.
“I think he’s got a really good chance of being one of the top contenders at the state meet come Saturday,” Wright said of Lucy-Speidel.
“I would think he would be top five in the state, which is a high goal but he’s trained well.”
Lucy-Speidel’s goal this weekend is indeed a top-five finish. And while he and the Falcons make another push at the state crown, Lucy-Speidel said he hasn’t yet started to think about his high school cross country career coming to a close.
“We talk about it in practice sometimes where we’re just like, ‘Wow, it feels like yesterday we were running the CHS Invitational and now here we are in the last week of practice, last race of the season.’ But I think for some of us it just hasn’t set in yet. I know it hasn’t for me,” said Lucy-Speidel, one of six seniors on Central’s boys squad. “I think I’ll be running that state meet, I’ll get to the end of it and it’ll finally hit me that, ‘Wow, that’s it. We’re done.’ But I don’t know, I don’t think it’s set in for me.”