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Warren County boys finish third in Central Invitational

James Harris

WOODSTOCK – Warren County cross country coach Mike Tanner had a problem that was easily fixed on Saturday at the Central Cross Country Invitational.

When Warren County’s girls team looked at the third-place trophy they were given, they realized they had been handed the boys trophy instead. Tanner was waiting to hear who the third-place boys team was so they could exchange trophies, but the problem was remedied when it was announced that Warren County had also placed third in the boys meet.

“We were going to have to go switch (trophies), and now we can just switch it with ourselves,” Tanner said with a laugh. “Both teams were a surprise. It was a nice surprise for us today.”

Part of why the boys team third-place finish was a surprise was the fact that two of their top five runners (Bailey Grant and Nathan Brown) weren’t able to be there. Warren County still finished with 126 points.

“For the boys to go third without two of our Top 5, again, I’m surprised and very impressed with the way they ran today,” Tanner said. “It looks good for us moving forward.”

D.J. Staton

For much of the race, Warren County’s DJ Staton and Sherando’s James Harris were battling up front for the lead.

However, they each suffered a setback that cost them some valuable time.

Staton started out strong and led the way, but a little after the first mile he took a wrong turn on the course, which proved costly. Staton said he has ran the course before, but they had changed it up a little bit and he had not realized it.

“It was just a mix-up with the course,” Staton said. “I didn’t realize they had changed the direction. We walked the course (before the race), I just wasn’t paying attention. So it was my fault.”

Staton didn’t stay off track for very long, but Tanner said it’s hard to recover your momentum after that.

“I don’t know if he’d of won (the race), Tanner said.”But it would have been a little bit different race if he didn’t make that turn, because that throws off your momentum. Not only did he go the wrong way, but you have a little bit of a groove going and that throws it off a little bit.”

Staton, a junior, finished fifth in a time of 16:27, and said he felt good from the start of the race.

“Early on I was feeling good,” Staton said. “I kind of made the mistake and went out too fast. I was feeling good so I went with it. It felt right. I felt like that was the right choice overall, to just push it.”

Harris, a sophomore, took the lead from Staton during the second mile, but Staton was able to retake the lead later on. With less than a mile of the three-mile race remaining, Harris said he began to feel a cramp coming on in the back of his leg.

“I was like ‘oh man, this isn’t good,'” Harris said. “I was like, ‘I have to finish the race. I can’t let this disappoint me. I’ve got to at least get into the top five.'”

Harris was able to fight through his cramps, and he and Staton and James Wood’s Nathan Shade battled down the final stretch for third place. Harris was able to just beat Staton at the finish line for fourth in a time of 16:26.89. Shade was third in 16:26.14.

James Wood’s Ethan Pierce won the race in a time of 16:15, while Millbrook’s Brad Hambrick was second (16:22).

James Wood won the boys meet with a score of 45 points, Millbrook finished second with 49.

Strasburg was fourth with 132 points. Anthony Cadle led the Rams with a 15th-place finish (16:59.74). Strasburg’s Tyler Zimbro was 20th (17:21.04).

“On the boys side we thought they looked really, really strong,” Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy said. “Especially being against competition like (Class) 3 and (Class) 4 schools that we were mixed up against. And I think when we take a step back and look at what they accomplished we’re going to be really happy with the way that we performed.”

Sherando finished sixth as a team with 168 points. Sherando’s Ty Waits finished 10th with a time of 16:46.

Sherando coach Megan Roberts said with Harris and Waits leading the way they’re looking for some of their younger runners to step up behind them.

“I think we got some boys that are ready to fill in on the back end now,” Roberts said. “We got some freshmen that, for their first race, they ran (junior varsity) just to kind of ease into it a little bit more. But I think we got some freshman boys that are going to be able to help us on varsity. So they’ll be chasing those two.”

Skyline was eighth (210) and Central was 10th (235).

Skyline was without top runner Joseph Hillaert due to injury, but coach Rodger Seemiller said he was still pleased with how his team performed.

“Micha Winningham, who took first for us (Saturday), he’s never done this before,” Seemiller said. “So we got some guys that can just walk out and do it.”

Winningham finished 32nd in a time of 18:06.23.

Central’s Anthony Piselli was 30th (18:01) to lead the Falcons.

Central coach Melissa Wright said that she was missing a few runners for various reasons, but she was proud of the way the boys team did.

“We got some young people who are jumping up from a two-mile race to a (5,000-meter race),” Wright said. “And I think that it takes a little time for them to adjust to varsity racing. I think in time we’re going to be a good solid competitor.”