Warren boys advance to states with third-place regional finish

Sabrina Wilkins

NOKESVILLE — Warren County has a young boys cross country squad this season, but the Wildcats took a big step as a program on Wednesday.

The Wildcats finished third as a team in the Region 3B cross country championships at Nokesville Park to advance to next week’s state championships. The top three teams and the top individuals not on the top three teams advance to next week’s state meet in Great Meadow in The Plains.

“We don’t have any senior boys. That’s a great thing that’s in the back of my mind,” Warren County coach Joseph Owens said. “Obviously, looking to states I’m just so happy. We’re just proud. There’s always ups and downs in a season and to be able to come through at the end, we’re really happy to have this group. They’re great kids on the cross country course and in the classroom and everywhere else.”

The Warren County boys were the only local team to advance to the Class 3 state meet. However, several individuals          also advanced to the girls state meet. Warren County’s Jacqui Ris and Kiersten Tanner both advanced as did Skyline’s Sabrina Wilkins and Carrie Hotek.

Wilkins finished second in the girls race, behind Brentsville’s Lydia Goetz. Last week in the Northwestern District Class 3 meet, Wilkins beat Goetz to win the title.

D.J. Staton

“At first I just wanted to go out there, stay with Lydia (Goetz), pace myself,” Wilkins said. “And then she started getting ahead. I was like oh, I’ve got to catch up to her. So then I started speeding up. My mental focus was like I got to beat Lydia (Goetz) again, because I did last time. I just got to put it all in there because it’s the second to last race.”

Goetz finished the three-mile course in a time of 19:10, while Wilkins finished in 19:35. Wilkins said her time was a new personal record by six seconds.

Hotek finished sixth in a time of 20:01. The junior said she doesn’t like flat courses, like the one at Nokesville Park.

Both Wilkins and Hotek ran at the state meet last year, and came up a little short of making all-state, which is the top 15. Hotek said that is a little extra motivation for them next week.

“I know last year I was just a little behind the top girls,” Hotek said. “And I really, really want to get a medal, just like Sabrina does. We just want to be standing up there (on the medals podium) together.”

Ris, a senior, placed ninth with a time of 20:23.

Ris said she wasn’t feeling well before the race, and she just had to talk herself through the race.

“I told myself ‘you’re going to hurt,'” Ris said. “‘It’s going to not feel good. And you just kind of have to embrace it and push through it. Because you got to do it for the team. If you want something good to happen you have to push through it.’ I just kept telling myself that.”

It’s the first time Tanner has advanced to the state meet. The sophomore placed 12th in a time of 20:43 and grabbed the final individual state qualifying spot.

“I’m so happy for Kiersten Tanner, who just peaked at the right time,” Owens said. “I couldn’t be more excited for her to go to states.”

Warren County sophomore D.J. Staton finished third in the boys race in a time of 16:51. James Monroe’s Mitch Dolby won the race in a time of 16:27.

Staton was battling throughout the race with Brentsville’s Brandon Close and Andrew Rice.

“It’s nice having kids like that next to you, because you can’t really slow down,” Staton said. “You’re like I got to beat this kid — it’s regionals. These kids matter now.”

Close was able to beat Staton at the very finish for second. Staton said he was very excited to be heading to the state meet.

“Last year I didn’t make it to states,” Staton said. “So this year it’s nice to be going.”

Warren County junior Bailey Grant placed sixth in the boys race in a time of 17:06.

“The start was a little crowded,” Grant said. “I got a little further back than I thought I would. But after the first mile I kind of picked off people and then just tried to get the highest spot I could.”

Last year Grant was Warren County’s only boys individual runner at the state meet. He said it’s nice to be going as a team this year.

“Last year I just went by myself, it was nice,” Grant said. “But sharing it with the team just has to be a lot better.”

Brentsville won the boys meet with 36 points, followed by James Monroe (45) and Warren County (73). Skyline finished seventh with 188 points. Skyline’s Joe Hillaert led the Hawks, finishing in 22nd (18:01).

James Monroe won the girls meet with 46 points, followed by Brentsville (55) and William Monroe (78). Warren County was fourth (87) and Skyline fifth (109).