The first step for the cross country post-season took place last Wednesday at Rappahannock County High School with the Bull Run District meet. The Mustang girls placed first with six runners in the top 14, and the boys were third with two placing in the top 14.
The top seven runners from all nine schools were entered in the championship girls and boys races. The “everyone else” race that followed was huge and was totally dominated by the red shirts of the deep Mason squad.
The Girls race started in light rain with low hanging clouds. All seven Mustang runners flew by the half mile mark in the top 15 places.
On her home course, Julia Wood from Rappahannock opened an early lead and maintained it throughout the race. Mason’s freshman Estelle Timar-Wilcox worked close off her heels for the first mile when she was joined by junior Logan Funk.
The two Mustangs worked together through the first big series of hill climbs, then Funk pulled away to finish in second. Timar-Wilcox was next in for Mason in fourth. Both took away medals for First Team All-District.
But the Mustang Girls took home the first place team trophy because of the runners who followed – senior Kaitlin Kutchma placed ninth, freshman Linnea Skotte was 11th and senior Kate Atkeson and sophomore Brooke Meinhart were 13th and 14th, respectively, all receiving Second Team All-District medals.
Anna Sawyer came in 21st in the race and was the seventh Mason runner to finish. With a low point total of 44, the girls took the winners’ circle for their trophy and photos.
As the clouds parted, the boys headed to the starting line. Fast off the first hill climbs of the course, the Mustang boys were out in front in the top 25 of a tight pack. As they came down off the second long climb of the major hills, senior James Pala led for the Mustangs followed closely by senior Beamlak Hailemariam, both of whom were in the top 15.
Pala was first in the for Mason in ninth place with Hailemariam off his shoulder down the final sprint placing in tenth. Both boys are Second Team All-District medalists.
Timothy Gilmour (15th) and James Schneider (16th) worked together over the course, trading leads and keeping each other in their sight. Jonathan Gilmour (26th) was followed in by Charlie Field (29th) and Kiran Menon (32nd). The team total of 76 points placed Mason 3rd out of the nine teams, behind Central-Woodstock and Strasburg High Schools
In the third race of the afternoon, all other runners from all the teams crowded the starting line for one huge race. The Mustang red was out front from the beginning and dominated at the finish.
The depth of the boys team was evident as senior Jackson Jost, sophomore CT Dodge, junior Patrick Field, junior Tyler Gogal, senior Julian Grippo, senior Clay Furleigh, freshman Griffin Warner, freshman Neil Menon and junior Justin Divecha all crossed the finish before any other teams had runners in.
The Mustang runners just kept coming, as more boys and girls proudly ran strong for Mason in a dominant showing. Gusty winds and plummeting temps challenged the many fans who made the trip to cheer them on and later prompted spontaneous team huddles for warmth as results were tallied.
For most of the runners the season ended Wednesday, but for the boys and girls who are the top ten or so on their teams, the training will continue for the post-season competitions.
The conference 35 meet was yesterday, Oct. 29, at New Market Battlefield, although results from the meet were not available at press time.
The regional meet follows at Panorama Farms outside Charlottesville next Wednesday, Nov. 5, with the state meet rounding out the season at Great Meadow on Friday, Nov. 14.