THE PLAINS – Strasburg’s young squad wasn’t sure what to expect of its first trip in a few years to states. On Friday, they were pleasantly surprised when they finished third in the Cross Country State Championships.
The Rams, with no seniors, finished third with 107 points in the Class 2 boys meet. Maggie Walker won the Class 2 title with 34 points, followed by Radford with 87.
“What a great day of racing for a young team with a lot of inexperience to come here, and in less than ideal conditions, come in third place in the state is just terrific,” Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy said. “Not a senior on the bunch. None of them have ever raced here before. We didn’t get to preview the course because of the weather. And for them to step up as a whole – Anthony Cadle, our No. 1 runner all the way through to our No. 7 runner Seth Nicholson -the boys as a group just ran exactly the way that you would hope to at this time of the season.”
Cadle led the Rams and finished 10th in the Class 2 boys race, held at Great Meadow in The Plains.
“In the first mile, I felt really good,” Cadle said. “And I didn’t know I was going to be that far up there. I was ranked in the 30s. I had no idea I was going to be that close to the top.”
A steady rain fell throughout the boys Class 2 race, and Cadle said they may have worked to his advantage. He said he enjoyed the conditions.
“That course was so muddy,” Cadle said. “It was a lot of fun. This is fun. I really do like it.”
Tyler Zimbro was 24th for the Rams and teammate Dylan Baker was 27th.
Warren County’s D.J. Staton was 15th in the Class 3 boys race.
“I felt good,” Staton said. “Usually, I don’t feel too good and don’t race too good in the cold, but I felt like I did today. I had a good start, and I think that really helped me.”
Staton said he was able to keep the top runners in his sights most of the race and used them to help push him to run faster.
“Some of the people that I raced against definitely made me go faster than I actually expected to,” he said.
Last year, Staton came up just short of making all-state (Top 15), and the junior said that motivated him for this year.
“It definitely was the goal,” Staton said. “Missing out last year by one or two places, I really wasn’t happy about that. So definitely come out this year and making all-state shows progression for me. And it definitely sets the goal for next year from what place I came in today and next year coming back.”
The Wildcats finished ninth as a team. Warren County coach Mike Tanner said that he was happy with how his runners fared.
“They got out well,” Tanner said. “At the first-mile marker, they were sitting pretty. It’s just we had some tough teams up front. They gave it all they could.”
Stonewall Jackson finished ninth as a team in the Class 1 boys race. The Generals were led by Zachari Munoz, who finished 50th.
“We’re not disappointed with our guys,” Stonewall Jackson coach Mary Clanahan said. “They were young and inexperienced. They were ready. It’s always a great experience to come to Great Meadow.”
Rudy said he’s excited for what the future holds for his young squad.
“What’s exciting is that none of our boys are graduating and they’re all coming back next year,” he said. “They are excited. They are understanding distance running, and with the new VHSL realignment the future looks very bright for the distance program.”