WOODSTOCK --Skyline junior Ava Bordner and Warren County's girls cross country team kicked off the season in style with victories in the Central Invitational on Saturday morning.
Bordner won the girls race in a time of 18:35. Warren County won the girls team title with 50 points, topping second-place James Wood by 2 points.
"It was good. It felt good," Bordner said. "I was telling the team we have been conditioning all year. We really have been. Cross country season went right into track season then to cross country conditioning in the summer. So it's like all season straight. So I told them, you're ready."
Bordner, who finished second in the Class 3 state meet this past spring, had plenty of competition in her race. Spotswood sophomore Taylor Myers finished third in the Class 3 state meet and Warren County sophomore Kaley Tanner was fourth in the Class 3 state meet.
Bordner was in a tight battle for the majority of the race with Myers, James Wood's Lauren Beatty and Madison County's Kate McLearen. Bordner pulled away during the last mile and beat Beatty by seven seconds.
"I felt good during the race," Bordner said. "They were pushing me. I was struggling a little bit, I'm not going to lie. But then I really got myself up, because I was remembering things. I had a strategy in my head. I was opening things up in the last mile, and I just thought 'I can do it.'"
Tanner finished fifth in a time of 19:20. Tanner said she was not happy with her result
"I started out with that (lead) pack," Tanner said. "But once I got into the race -- I just didn't have the best race. I didn't have a good race, but I wanted to get fifth. So I wouldn't let anyone pass me. So I struggled well, as my dad (Warren County coach Mike Tanner) always says 'struggle well'."
The Wildcats had four runners in the top 15 en route to the team title. Warren County senior Ryleigh Breeden was 11th (20:04), junior Nicole Ranney 13th (20:16), senior Leah Webster 15th (20:30) and freshman Ella Martin 17th (21:01).
"Even though I don't think I did good, individually, our team did fantastic as a team," Kaley Tanner said. "I'm just so proud of them. I think this is the best team we've had in a while. This year's going to be really good for us."
Strasburg sophomore Claire Keefe finished 10th in the girls race with a time of 20:02. Keefe, running on Central's course for the first time, said she was able to use her track experience and have a strong finish.
Keefe said the heat and the competition made it a really challenging day.
"It got really hot in the middle of the race, and I was like 'oh my gosh, I cannot push through this,'" Keefe said. "And all the girls are really good here. I was like 'oh my gosh they are going out so fast.' And it's just me and I didn't know how to pace myself. It's the beginning of the season, so I don't really know who to stay with. I have to say it was pretty tough."
In the boys race, the heat was a factor for Warren County sophomore Emil Stanford, who finished 18th (17:30).
Stanford said he was having to take more breaths and he felt like his timing was off, but he was surprised when he saw his time.
"My goal was to get sub-18 this first race," Stanford said. "So it makes me feel optimistic that if it felt that slow and I still got 17:30, I still got more in the tank. I just need more training."
Stanford's teammate Clayton Rankin was right behind him in 20th (17:35).
Warren County finished fifth (147 points) in the boys race as a team. Warren County's Zane Clark was 32nd (18:21.23), Shea Henson 37th (18:31.19) and Nick Kozhenevsky 40th (18:38).
"They have a lot of potential," Mike Tanner said of his boys squad. "They have a lot of improvement that could happen, a couple guys came in late, out of shape. So we're in the process of improving. It's going to be exciting to see what we can do.
"It was a cool experience for both teams. We get to go home with some good news and some good vibes."
Warren County was the only area squad that had enough runners to qualify for a score in the team results.
Skyline's Bronson Breen was 47th (19:14). He was followed by teammates Ben Arp (67th, 20:11), Noah Garland (75th, 20:45.46) and Louden Schucker (77th, 20:46). Strasburg's lone runner was Anthony Atchariyakornchai (99th, 25:13).
Skyline's girls finished fifth as a team with 168 points. Bordner was followed in the race by teammates Sophie Jensen (33rd, 22:30), Megan Arp (45th, 22:58), Valarie Ritenour (53rd, 23:33) and Kaitlyn Antonelli (61st, 24:16).
Central finished 11th in the girls event as a team with 270 points. The Falcons were led in the race by Eden Shelhamer (44th, 22:54), Asia Hoover (49th, 23:12.71), Laniah Hoover (63rd, 24:20), Kyle Ball (87th, 31:31) and Kelsi Campbell (88th, 31:45).
Strasburg's Neila Coughenour was 72nd (25:37) and Regan Robinson 73rd (25:57). Mountain View's Ashlyn Whitman was 77th (26:59) and Leah Diehl 95th (38:50).
James Wood won the boys title with 35 points, followed by Spotswood with 49. James Wood's Nathaniel Woshner won the boys race in a time of 15:59.
There was also a developmental race held, which featured boys and girls combined.
Central coach Melissa Wright said she felt like the 18-team meet was a success.
"I'm very grateful to all of our teams that showed up today," Wright said. "I thought it was a great effort by all of the kids. And it's just nice to have a big cross country invitational and have this place full once again. I hope that will continue throughout the season."