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Commonwealth Cross Country: Focused Eagles uphold tradition
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
In the days leading up to the Commonwealth District cross country meet, Colonial Forge coach Sean Leyh fielded numerous calls from supporters.
Alumni wanted to wish the program good luck. Former coach Michael Porter, who is now a volunteer assistant at Louisiana State University, wanted to share his well wishes, too.
Leyh said the affection others have for the program doesn’t go unnoticed.
He said it’s helped the Eagles establish a winning tradition, and he reiterates it every time a new runner joins the team.
Colonial Forge’s winning ways continued on Thursday at Willowmere Park in Stafford County.
Its girls captured the district title for the third straight season.
The Eagles’ boys finished third behind Albemarle and Stafford to qualify for the Northwest Region meet, as well.
“When a new girl comes in I tell them, ‘This whole thing is bigger than just you, and bigger than just this year,’” Leyh said. “So many girls have paved the way, and I think they’re starting to buy into that.”
Five Colonial Forge girls placed in the top 15. The Eagles were led by junior Megan Rebholz, who finished second behind Albemarle’s Allison Huschke.
Rebholz missed the district and region meet last fall because of a hip flexor. She said entering this season she didn’t believe she could compete for a top 10 spot in the district.
But Rebholz gained so much confidence from her performance Thursday she said she’s ready to run again immediately.
“This feels good,” Rebholz said. “It was the worst feeling ever sitting out last year. So I’m just glad to be back and glad everything is good.”
The Eagles also got standout performances from sophomore Allison Taylor (fifth), senior Lilly Moore (sixth), senior Jenna Walker (12th) and junior Kelsey Peace (13th).
Leyh was especially pleased with Peace, whom he said was a “borderline” varsity performer all year, but stepped up because of an injury to another runner.
“She really sealed it for us, and that was a huge breakthrough,” Leyh said. “She’s really starting to catch on, and that’s what we need.”
Leyh wasn’t as relaxed watching the boys race. But other district coaches shared his anxiety.
Five coaches believed their teams had real shots at the title. But just four programs could advance to the region meet.
Albemarle, Stafford and Colonial Forge will be joined by Mountain View at regionals.
“Riverbend is a good team,” Leyh said. “But they’re getting left out of the whole deal.”
Stafford coach Peter Augrom was initially disappointed the Indians finished second for the third straight year, but that reaction proved to be a brief one.
“Given how hard our district is,” Augrom said, “I’m happy just to get out of it.”
Stafford didn’t let the runner-up finish in 2011 stop it from winning region and Group AAA state titles.
On Thursday, the Indians were paced by Ian MacLeod, who finished second to Albemarle’s Ryan Thomas.
Mountain View junior Ben Sorensen was third, followed by Stafford’s Joey Abbatiello and Albemarle’s Zack Gentry.
The top four teams and top 15 individuals have advanced to regionals next Wednesday at Panorama Farms in Charlottesville.
Team scores: 1. Colonial Forge 38, 2. Albemarle 62, 3. Mountain View 75, 4. Stafford 83, 5. North Stafford 137, 6. Massaponax 152, 7. Riverbend 160, 8. Orange 215, 9. Brooke Point 229.
Top 15 individuals: 1. Allison Huschke (A) 19:07.3, 2. Megan Rebholz (CF) 19:08.7, 3. Hannah Lowery (St) 19:18.6, 4. Jordan Angers (MV) 19:50.7, 5. Allison Taylor (CF) 20:11.1, 6. Lilly Moore (CF) 20:15.8, 7. Casey Soper (R) 20:21.1, 8. Lauren Truwit (A) 20:23.9, 9. Taylor Boruch (Ma) 20:24, 10. Maddie Biddle (MV) 20:25, 11. Ciera Ulan (A) 20:25.4, 12. Jenna Walker (CF) 20:25.6, 13. Kelsey Peace (CF) 20:28.3, 14. Bridget Abbatiello (St) 20:35.2, 15. Hannah Field (NS) 20:39.3.
Team scores: 1. Albemarle 59, 2. Stafford 67, 3. Colonial Forge 79, 4. Mountain View 91, 5. Riverbend 104, 6. Brooke Point 138, 7. North Stafford 155, 8. Massaponax 256, 9. Orange 276.
Top 15 individuals: 1. Ryan Thomas 15:53.2, 2. Ian MacLeod (St) 15:56.3, 3. Ben Sorensen (MV) 16:10.2, 4. Joey Abbatiello (St) 16:11.7, 5. Zack Gentry (A) 16:27.8, 6. Robert Walker (BP) 16:32.9, 7. Andrew Boykin (CF) 16:33.2, 8. Will Young (R) 16:41.5, 9. Zachary Batt (NS) 16:42.8, 10. Colin Doescher (CF) 16:44, 11. Mike Knaus (BP) 16:50.8, 12. Sam Gillespie (A) 16:54.4, 13. Cullen Monahan (CF) 16:56.4, 14. Jeffrey Bryant (NS) 16:58.3, 15. Bruce Garth (R) 16:58.6.
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526