Cross country team races in annual overnight


Photo courtesy of Steve Kan. Junior Connor Simpson, freshman Giancarlo Valdetaro and sophomore Nate Foss get off to a strong start at the beginning of the JV Boys race.

Ellen Kan

Every year, the sight of pajama-clad cross country runners in the halls means only one thing: the overnight meet, which is one of the most anticipated events of the season.

This year, the Jefferson cross country team traveled south to compete in the XC Invitational on Oct. 19. This year, the meet was held at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, which showcases a tougher, hillier course than the one of previous years at Chesterfield’s Pocahontas State Park. A total of 78 schools and over 2,300 runners were present at the meet, and Jefferson fielded runners in four of the ten races.

The athletes departed from Jefferson after fifth period on Oct. 18 in order to preview the course during their afternoon run. The team also enjoyed bonding activities and a hearty team dinner in the evening.

The morning of the race was bleak and chilly with rainclouds threatening on the horizon. Despite the drizzly race conditions, the majority of the athletes had impressive performances.

“It was a pretty fast course, and a lot of our team members set great end-of-season 5K PRs,” senior Carrie Murton, a team captain, said. “One of the nice things about overnight meets is getting to run the course the day before and then spending time with the team.”

The junior varsity boys displayed their standard prowess on the course, finishing third as a team behind Lake Braddock Secondary School and W.T. Woodson High School. The junior varsity girls placed eighth. The boys and girls varsity teams did not fare as well, as they faced heavy competition from some of the state’s top-ranked teams. They secured 17th and 20th place, respectively.

As the last meet in the regular season, the XC Invitational was especially important in that the runners’ performances determined the lineup for the championship season.

“Once the race starts, it was really just about slowly moving up. It’s fun to race and pass people,” junior Mitch Woodhouse, who placed 11th in the JV Boys race and secured a spot on the post-season varsity team, said. “As for future team performance, I’m looking forward to learning how the championship works and doing my part to push us forward.”

The last meet for junior varsity runners, known as the Coaches Festival or JV Districts, will be held at Franconia Park on Oct. 23. In the meantime, the seven-member varsity squads and alternates will taper down before they compete in the Conference 13 Championships at Burke Lake Park on Oct. 31.