The George Mason High School cross country teams found the New Market Battlefield largely hidden in fog when they arrived last Saturday morning for an invitational meet with 20 other schools, but the conditions did nothing to slow Mason’s hunt for victory in all of the day’s races.
Mustang athletes ran strong races against many district and regional competitors, resulting in top finishes for Mason’s teams and athletes.
The girls varsity team took first place, the boys varsity team took second, the open girls race team placed first, and the open boys race team placed second. The awards ceremony was dominated by Mason athletes heading to the front to collect medals and trophies.
The day started with the varsity girls race. The team placed first out of 18 teams with 72 points. Paul VI Catholic High School of Fairfax was second with 82, followed by Central-Woodstock High School with 104. Blaise Sevier led the girls team, followed closely by Kaitlin Kutchma and Grace Eye, who traded positions constantly over the many long climbs the course offered. Sevier was second overall (21:18). Kutchma finished in sixth place (22:03), and Eye was seconds behind in 11th (22:16). The scoring for Mason was rounded out by Brooke Meinhart in 25th place and Mia Sawyer in 28th.
Next off the line were the varsity boys, exploring the depth of their roster as they had some runners coming back from injuries in the open race later in the day. Mason ended with 87 points, in second place out of 19 teams, behind Paul VI with 55. Strasburg High School was third with 145 points, followed by Central-Woodstock with 153. The boys were strong from the start, cresting the first hill with three runners in the top 10. Truman Custer jockeyed for the lead the whole race, and ended in second place with a time of 17:54. Jackson Jost was about 30 seconds behind for a ninth-place finish, and John Marshall was the third runner in for Mason, 19th overall at 19:00. The scoring for Mason was completed by David Drawbaugh in 25th place and Julian Grippo in 32nd.
As the fog gradually lifted, the open girls racers lined up ready to climb the first long hill. Anna Sawyer saw her chance and led the pack to the loud cheers of her Mason teammates, urging her on from above. Lucy Hoak, Megan Jenkins, Ziggy Thetard, and Julia Ferris worked together the entire race, spurring each other on and gaining ground on other runners. It came right down to the wire, with Hoak passing Sawyer at the end for a second-place finish overall in a time of 23:58. Sawyer was third at 24:01. Rounding out the scoring for Mason were three more runners in the top 10: Jenkins in fourth, Thetard in seventh, and Ferris in ninth. Mason was first overall with 25 points; Brentsville High School took second with 40, and Paul VI was third with 86.
The large group of Mason boys waiting to run were not going to be outdone, wanting time in the winners circle, too. Austin Gogal and Paul Sanders ran hard, eager to regain their place in the top seven varsity. Gogal surged down the final hill passing Sanders to finish in first (18:56). Sanders was fourth (19:12) and Ryan Calabrese was fifth (19:52). Justin Divecha and Beamlak Hailemariam helped with the overall scoring for Mason with their strong finishes (11th and 13th). The boys were second overall with 34 points, just behind Paul VI with 32. Harrisonburg High School and Brentsville tied with 100 points, and Central-Woodstock was fifth with 153.
Next Wednesday, Oct. 9, the teams will travel to Strasburg High School to compete, and then on Saturday, Oct. 12, will participate in Glory Days, a large invitational at the Manassas Battleground.