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Knights’ Yorio pulls a stunner in Battlefield cross country meet

BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH

As Spotsylvania’s Zach Yorio reached the multicolored flags in the brief stretch toward the finish line, he pointed both index fingers in the air, smiled, and momentarily slowed down.

Then he heard people were still cheering and still encouraging him to keep sprinting.

Then he realized he hadn’t finished yet.

But by that moment in yesterday’s Battlefield District cross country meet, Yorio’s lead was so wide that it didn’t matter.

He put his arms down and mustered one final kick, but the smile remained plastered across his face.

Yorio finished the race at Pratt Park in 16 minutes, 43.1 seconds. He had never completed a 3.1-mile event in less than 17 minutes.

Culpeper’s Colton Elliott placed second, more than 22 seconds behind Yorio. Chancellor’s Michael Waller, the defending district champion, led most of the race but ultimately placed third.

Moments after the race, Yorio seemed stunned, walking around the grassy field and muttering, “I can’t believe it” over and over to no one in particular.

“I don’t know how I did it,” Yorio said later. “I didn’t look back once. I was just running for my life at the end.”

Yorio knew it would be difficult to finish ahead of Waller, Chancellor’s sinewy senior.

During a recent regular-season race at Spotsylvania, he realized Waller did not like having someone stay close to him. So yesterday, that is exactly what Yorio did.

“I knew if I could keep a minimal gap I could chip away,” Yorio said. “I didn’t want to get right on him too quickly because I knew it would push him, and I didn’t know if I had the energy to stay with him.”

So Yorio let Waller set the pace and stayed about 10 yards behind him for most of the race.

When the two runners reached the final stretch of about 200 yards, Yorio kicked and no one could keep up.

Waller has struggled through back pain in recent weeks, and he said that led him to revert to bad form yesterday.

After crossing the finish line in third, Waller collapsed to the ground.

“I wish there was one more chance I could have,” Waller said. “I feel like I let the team down.”

That certainly was not the case, however, as Chancellor claimed the team title with 55 points. Spotsylvania placed second with 58.

Waller said he plans to get extra rest before next Wednesday’s Region I meet at Loriella Park, and he said he would slow his initial pace in that race.

Yorio, meanwhile, wants to show that yesterday’s finish was the start of something big.

“I’ve proved to myself I can do it,” he said. “Now hopefully I can maintain this.”

In the girls race, King George’s Haley Armentrout finished first in 20:27.8, nearly 10 seconds ahead of Spotsylvania’s Emmie Schmitt, the defending champion.

“Emmie stayed with me the entire time,” Armentrout said, “and that made me push a lot harder than I would have.”

Through countless turns, Armentrout looked to her coaches and her parents to tell her where Schmitt was.

“My dad was running everywhere,” she said with a chuckle.

Armentrout pulled away at one point, but Schmitt closed the gap in the wooded area.

Last season, Schmitt pushed to a big early lead that Armentrout was unable to overcome. But this season, that did not happen.

“In the third mile,” Armentrout said, “I gave it everything I had.”

Armentrout’s victory helped the Foxes to the team title with 48 points. Courtland placed second with 63.

“They didn’t like giving the trophy to someone else last season,” King George coach Cathy Binder said. “This year, they wanted it back.”

BOYS MEET

Team scores: 1. Chancellor 55;

2. Spotsylvania 58; 3. Courtland 79; 4. Culpeper 83; 5. King George 128; 6. James Monroe 139; 7. Eastern View 157; 8. Caroline 208

Top 15 individuals: 1. Zach Yorio (Sp) 16:43.1; 2. Colton Elliot (Cul) 17:05.2; 3. Mike Waller (Ch) 17:10.3; 4. Dylan Platt (EV) 17:11.7; 5. Jonathan Mersiowsky 17:15.5; (Ct); 6. Ted Bailey (Sp) 17:16.1;

7. Zach Miller (Sp) 17:20.5;

8. Darrian Hobbs-Rasberry (Ch) 17:24.4; 9. Elliott Sellers (Cul) 17:25.2; 10. Travis Hinton (Ch) 17:26.8; 11. Neil Schubel (Ch) 17:28.9; 12. Tyler Lumpkin (KG) 17:36.9; 13. Kyler Jourdan (Ct) 17:42.2; 14. Clay Metcalf (Cul) 17:45.9; 15. Tyler O’Toole (Ct) 17:48.2.

GIRLS MEET

Team scores: 1. King George 48;

2. Courtland 63; 3. James Monroe 72; 4. Spotsylvania 86; 5. Eastern View 100; 6. Chancellor 143;

7. Culpeper 185.

Top 15 individuals: 1. Haley Armentrout (KG) 20:27.8; 2. Emmie Schmitt (Sp) 20:37; 3. Kayla Locklear (Ct) 20:40.3; 4. Caroline Morris (JM) 20:45.2; 5. Anna Kniceley (KG) 20:57.2; 6. Hannah Sharp (Ch) 21:18.5; 7. Lila Burris (EV) 21:25.4; 8. Jessica Longenecker (Ct) 21:32.2; 9. Victoria Parent (Ct) 21:33.4; 10. Miranda Green (KG) 21:38.8; 11. Lindsey Armentrout (KG) 22:02.9; 12. Annie Clemo (JM) 22:04.3 13. Taylor Weisbrod (Sp) 22:10.4; 14. Gabrielle Hernandez (JM) 22:11.9; 15. Amber Riggle (Sp) 22:14.6.

Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442

ahimmelsbach@freelancestar.com

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