George Mason High School was one of more than 90 schools that sent teams and runners to Leesburg last Saturday to compete in the Oatlands Invitational.
The woods, hills, creeks, and fields surrounding the grand Oatlands Plantation provided a challenging course for the nearly 4,000 runners who competed in eight 5K races that day. Spectators more than doubled that number, with huge crowds lining the course and cheering all morning and into the afternoon.
Top teams and runners from 5A and 6A schools from both Virginia and Maryland were the overall winners (Oakton, Washington-Lee, Chantilly, Battlefield, Thomas Edison, and Urbana high schools).
George Mason’s boys and girls cross country teams had strong individual and team performances. The top five runners from a school in a race scored points to determine that school’s place in the race. Most races had between 400 and 500 runners, and getting good position out of the starting line required determination, speed, and concentration. Feet were flying – and the occasional elbow, too – as runners sought space to hit stride.
Once again, the eighth-through-10th-grade girls came away with the highest team finish for Mason. Placing an outstanding third in a field of 46 teams, the girls were led by three eighth-graders: Estelle Timar-Wilcox (12th place, 21:29), Logan Funk (15th, 21:41), and Emma Smith (41st, 22:38). Rounding out the top five were freshmen Megan Jenkins (71st) and Lucy Hoak (80th).
The eighth-through-10th-grade boys ran strong and worked well together as a group. In a field of 560 runners, Patrick Field led the Mustangs, finishing 269th at 21:36. He was followed by a tight pack of fellow freshmen, CT Dodge (22:00), Jarret Wood (22:04), and Neal Marshall (22;24), with sophomore Zach Ellis (22:31) close on their heels.
In the junior/senior girls race, senior Lauren Meinhart finished a strong 30th out of 329. Her time was 22:57. Mason runners Emma Hannan (143rd) and Madison Irwin (286th) rounded out the group.
Jonathan Gilmour led the junior/senior boys to a 26th place team finish out of 47 teams. Gilmour place 91st (19:57) with Charlie Field right behind in 97th with a time of 20:04. Noah Saberhagen (158th-20:47), Andrew Hokaj (174th, 20:57) and RJ Martinez (283rd, 23:56) rounded out the runners scoring points for the team.
The Varsity B boys race was one of the smaller races of the day, with 268 runners competing. Mason was well represented by junior James Pala, who placed 61st in 18:54, followed by freshman Ryan Calabrese (83rd, 19:05), Justin Divecha (133rd- 19:42), Beamlak Hailemariam (135th, 19:43), and Kiran Menon (169th, 20:12).
In the Varsity A girls race, sophomore Blaise Sevier ran an exceptional time in a strong field of 345 runners, placing 52nd overall in a time of 20:29. Following her in for Mason were Kaitlin Kutchma (119th, 21:24), Grace Eye (169th, 21:59), Brooke Meinhart (174th, 22:01) and Mia Sawyer (185th, 22:10). The team placed 28th out of 49, against schools far larger than Mason’s 2A division.
The Varsity A boys have great depth with a group of juniors and seniors who have run together for many seasons. They worked well together to get position off the start, and then throughout the race to maintain a strong pace. Truman Custer came across first for the Mustangs in 108th place with a time of 17:30. A tight group followed – John Marshall ( 212th, 18:19), Jackson Jost (214th, 18:20), Preston Custer (217th, 18:21), and David Drawbaugh (230th, 18:26). The Mason boys were 40th out of 60 teams in the highly competitive field.
Mason traveled to William Monroe Wednesday to compete in a tri-meet also including Rappahannock, but results were not available at press time. This Saturday, Sept. 28, the teams will travel to New Market Battlefield for the Stonewall Jackson Invitational, a new addition to their schedule this season.