Western Albemarle’s boys cross country team may have bigger goals in mind with Southeast Regionals looming and that chance to qualify for nationals there in two weeks.
But Saturday they proved they’re undoubtedly the top program in Class 3, winning a third-straight state championship in Salem, scoring 15 points to win the championship, the lowest score possible in cross country.
The Warriors went 1-2-3-5-6 with Jack Eliason winning the individual championship. The fourth place runner from Cave Spring Austin Hayden broke up the 1-5 finish but was running individually and didn’t receive a team score, so the Warriors still ended up with the perfect 15.
“We just had to treat it as any other race,” said third place finisher Stuart Terrill. “At two miles (teammate) Will Bonner said something to me about running the shortest course possible, we just all work to calm our nerves. Running with the team made it super relaxing in the race.”
Eliason’s championship came after finishing as the state runner-up to teammate Joe Hawkes who traded places with Eliason Saturday, coming in just 12 seconds behind the champion. The Warriors’ top three seniors going 1-2-3 was a fitting finish to their state championship careers that include the three state titles and now a near miss of a 1-5 finish.
“They obviously have a ton of talent and they’ve got the ingredient that you’ve got to have if you’re talented — they love to work hard,” said Western coach Lindy Bain.
Joseph Taylor finished fifth and Thomas Kallen took sixth to round out Western’s perfect score. Western also got strong finishes from Owen Shifflett, a freshman who took 13th and Will Bonner who finished 51st.
Now the Warriors can turn their attention to that other huge goal, potentially qualifying for nationals at the Southeast Regional where programs like Loudoun Valley and local rival Albemarle will also be competing for those coveted spots.
“We have NXR in two weeks so hopefully we can qualify for nationals, but it feels great to win another state championship,” Terrill said.
Other local finishers included Monticello’s Will Krehmeyer taking ninth overall and Mustangs junior Hunter Ray taking 32nd.
Girls 3 Girls
Western Albemarle’s girls cross country team fought off a strong challenge from Hidden Valley to hold on to second place in the Class 3A girls state championship race, edging the Titans to finish as the state runner-up behind title-winner Maggie Walker by just 14 spots.
The Warriors finished three runners in the top eight, with sophomore Jenna Stutzman leading the way with a runner-up finish behind Maggie Walker’s Mary Caroline Heinen. Senior Sterling Hull, finished fourth nine seconds behind Stutzman and junior Kate Ratcliffe’s eighth place finish rounded out the Warriors’ top three.
Freshman Jackie Neilon took 36th overall and junior Caroline Jones took 39th to round out the Warriors’ scoring for the day.
Other local finishes included Charlottesville freshman Penelope Tingley finishing third individually with the fastest time by a ninth-grader in the field. Fluvanna junior Emily Smeds took 10th overall. Goochland senior Anna Kate Wirsing took 45th overall.
Class 2 Girls and Boys
Madison County girls cross country finished third in the Class 2 race Saturday, led by sophomores Abby PAtterson and Kate McLearen taking 12th and 13th respectively.
EmmaKate Jenkins took 32nd, Leah Henshaw 40th and Mary Wingate 56th to round out the Warriors’ scoring.
Nelson County’s Savannah Lawson finished 19th overall.
On the boys side, Madison finished fifth overall with Lucas Vailhe taking 12th and Mitchell Dyer finishing 14th to set the tone. Colby Messinger took 41st, Luke Beeler 49th and Joseph Chung 53rd to cap the scoring for the Mountaineers.