Central runners reach perfection

NEW MARKET — Perfection.

That’s what Central’s boys cross country team achieved Wednesday in the Shenandoah County meet held at the New Market battlefield course. Central won the boys meet with 15 points, recording the top five runners in the race.

“That’s been something we’ve been wanting to do since sophomore year,” Central senior Gus Wightman said of the perfect score. “So it’s even better to do it in the county race and have those bragging rights.”

Central swept the meet as the girls also won, finishing with 22 points. The Falcons had five of the top nine in the girls race.

Central’s Mason Lucy-Speidel won the boys race in a time of 17:47, followed by Gus Wightman (17:52), Sawyer Lucy-Speidel (18:42), Chase Rimel (18:44) and Anthony Piselli (19:22).

The Falcons were without one of their normal top-runners in Colin Bradley-Connoly. Central coach Melissa Wright said she was very pleased with the way Piselli ran and filled in the fifth spot.

“I was really proud of the way Anthony Piselli ran today,” Wright said. “He really stepped up and made (the prefect score) happen.”

Wightman led early in the race, but he was challenged by East Rockingham’s Braeden Wallace. East Rockingham and Buffalo Gap ran in the meet, but they were only competing against Shenandoah District foe Stonewall Jackson. Their scores did not count in the Shenandoah County meet.

With about a quarter of a mile to go, Mason Lucy-Speidel said he made his move to pass both Wightman and Wallace and held on for his second consecutive title.

“We kept a pretty decent pace throughout most of the race,” Mason Lucy-Speidel said. “That last mile we were moving. Me, Gus and (Wallace) we were all moving on the backstretch.”

Central’s Jaclyn Cardoso won the girls race in a time of 21:49.

The freshman took the lead early in the race and held on for her first county title. Cardoso said she enjoys running against runners from other schools in the county.

“I felt good. It was a good race in good weather,” Cardoso said. “I have friends from other schools in the county, and it’s fun running with them. It feels nice to be competing against other teams close to us.”

Central’s Grace Dellinger was second in the county meet with a time of 22:19. The senior said it was nice to see the team win as well.

“I don’t think Central’s done that in a while,” Dellinger said. “So that feels pretty good. We’re proud of that.”

In the boys race, Strasburg’s Tyler Zimbro was sixth and Anthony Cadle was seventh. The Rams finished third as a team with 66 points. Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy said they were missing some of their top five runners.

“It was a good day for racing,” Rudy said. “I was glad to see both Tyler Zimbro and Anthony Cadle up there running hard. Two sophomore boys that have a bright future ahead of them.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Zach Wine was eighth in a time of 19:36. The Generals finished second with 57 points in the boys race.

Stonewall Jackson’s LuLu Funkhouser was fourth in the girls race with a time of 22:47.

The Generals were third as a team with 56 points. Strasburg was second with 54 points.

Stonewall Jackson coach Mary Clanahan said that she feels like her girls are ready for the postseason, which starts next week.

“The kids are ranked high in the region,” Clanahan said. “I told the you got to pull your shoelaces tight and aim high. And that’s what they’re doing right now.”

Strasburg’s Rachel Palmer was fifth in a time of 22:59, while teammate Abby Davis was sixth in 23:16.

Central freshman Aliyah Kibler was third in the girls race in 22:37.

Central’s boys finished second in the state the last two years, and Wightman said the goal is to do even better this year. Wightman said he feels good about the team this season.

“These guys have really worked hard and I can tell that they really want it,” Wightman said. “So we just got to keep going. We can’t slack up these next weeks. We got to really put in some good workouts and everybody needs to stay healthy  — and I think we’ll be good.”