Athletes from 26 schools traveled to Panorama Farms last Wednesday for the 2A East Regional Meet. At the end of competition, both the boys and girls teams from George Mason High School were awarded second-place trophies for their performances.
The boys team ran first, with Mason runners taking their place midway down the wide starting line. The slight downhill was into a brisk breeze and the Mason runners tucked in, waiting to make their move to the head of the pack in the woods.
Mason runners came out into the open fields in great position, with Truman Custer, Jackson Jost, and John Marshall in the top 20.
Custer led the boys into the hilliest part of the course and remained in the lead to finish ninth out of 115 runners with a time of 17:15.
Jost stayed close the whole way, and was still gaining ground, passing runners on the final stretch. He finished 12th at 17:28.
Both Custer and Jost took the podium for recognition of the top 15 runners in the region. Marshall ran well, but just missed top 15 with a 16th-place finish at 17:49.
Austin Gogal (22nd at 18:14) and Preston Custer (28th at 18:29) were next in for the Mustangs, completing the scoring for points.
Runners James Pala (37th at 18:50) and Beamlak Hailemariam (40th at 18:56) ran strong and beat many runners, hurting competitors’ points for team totals.
The boys shared their impressions of the course with the girls as the next set of Mason runners headed to the starting line.
Blaise Sevier was deep in the pack at the start, but emerged from the woods in ninth place. She moved into fifth place by the 4K mark, with one kilometer to go, and finished in an all-out sprint in fifth place with a time of 20:07.
Grace Eye and Kaitlin Kutchma joined up before the 2K mark to work the rest of the race together. In her first season of cross country, Eye finished an impressive 17th in a time of 21:18. Kutchma ran a typical smart, strong race to 19th place at 21:28.
Freshmen Brooke Meinhart (27th at 21:55) and Mia Sawyer (31st at 22:16) completed the scoring for Mason, both sprinting down the final straightaway.
Lauren Meinhart (36th at 22:43) and Coral Gillette (40th at 22:56) seemed to take a page from the boys team’s strategy with their strong finishes, displacing the competition and adding to the other teams’ higher team totals.
With the reconfiguration of the Virginia High School League, the addition of Maggie Walker Governor’s School (a public regional magnet school in Richmond) made the biggest impact on Mason. Maggie Walker runners dominated the day with the full squad of seven boys finishing in the top 15 and receiving all-region recognition. Maggie Walker’s girls team had five on the podium for the top 15. Three Mason runners received individual recognition for finishing in the top 15: Truman Custer, Jackson Jost, and Blaise Sevier.
Mason was ahead of the rest of the competition, but fell far short of the strong showing by Maggie Walker.
In the boys race, Maggie Walker placed first with 17 points, followed by Mason with 80, Strasburg High School with 113, Robert E. Lee High School of Staunton with 126, Clarke County High School with 148, and Madison County High School with 210.
In the girls race, Maggie Walker placed first with 21 points, followed by Mason with 82, Strasburg with 124, Madison County with 170, Clarke County with 183, and Wilson Memorial High School with 197.
These top teams will advance, as will six teams from the 2A West region, to the state meet this week. The meet will be held over two days at Great Meadow in The Plains, with the 4A – 6A teams competing Friday and the 1A – 3A teams running Saturday.