Cross County - Third Battle Invitational

Posted: October 19, 2015
The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Loudoun Valley senior Andrew Hunter ran a 5K faster than any high school runner from Virginia ever had before in the Third Battle Invitational cross country race on Saturday.

Hunter, a senior two-time state champion who is ranked No. 1 in the nation, crossed the finish line in 14 minutes and 20 seconds, setting a new course and state record in winning the race for the third consecutive year.

Heritage sophomore Weini Kelati, who is ranked third in the nation, also set a new course record and posted the second fastest time ever by a Virginia girl with a time of 16:29, beating the previous race record of Caroline Alcorta of West Springfield (in 2013) by 41 seconds as she posted the second fastest time in the nation this year.

Both record times were more than a minute faster than the runner-up in each of the boys’ and girls’ races that featured 477 varsity runners (254 boys, 223 girls) and 69 teams (37 boys’ teams, 32 girls).

Hunter pointed toward the clock with his left hand and pumped his right fist as he crossed the finish line 34 seconds ahead of the course record he set as a junior a season ago.

“It was a big time PR so I was pleased,” said Hunter, who broke his old personal record by 16 seconds and beat the previous state mark (14:28 at the Foot Locker South Regional in 2012) held by Chantilly’s Sean McGorty. “I didn’t think I was going to run that fast.”

Hunter’s win — and his team’s depth — helped Loudoun Valley edge Stone Bridge for the team title on a tiebreaker. Both teams finished with 107 points but the Vikings edged Stone Bridge — who placed four runners under 16 minutes — because their No. 6 runner placed 48th (and Stone Bridge’s No. 6 finished 91st).

With six runners in the top 50, Hunter said his team is running well heading into the postseason.

“It was really good to win,” Hunter said. “It was kind of scary winning with the sixth guy — it’s kind of unusual but we got the job done.

“It’s a Loudoun County school and since we’re not all together in the same district anymore it’s always fun to race against [Stone Bridge],” Hunter said. “I really like the guys on their team. It was nice to get the win but more big things to come for us though.”

Hunter finished 1:07 clear of Millbrook senior and runner-up Tyler Cox-Philyaw. Hunter (4:37)and Cox-Philyaw (4:59) were the only two runners with a sub 5-minute pace.

Cox-Philyaw said the opening mile was faster than he anticipated with Hunter at about 4:32 while he was at 4:45 and he just wanted to maintain his position from there.

“The last mile I knew someone was behind me and I’m like ‘I’m not going to get beat on my home course on my senior year by anybody but Andrew Hunter’ so that’s kind of what made me kick it in,” Cox-Philyaw said. “I’ve been feeling better and better each race. The training we’ve been doing all year was designed to make us peak for regionals and states and the postseason so I feel confident going into the postseason.”

While Cox-Philyaw led the way among local runners, Sherando’s boys’ team posted the area’s best finish, taking fourth place. The Warriors finished with 209 points, 16 behind third-place George C. Marshall with 193. Gonzaga College High School rounded out the top five with 244 points.

Sherando, led by senior Trevor Whiteside in 12th overall (15:52), placed its top five runners within 54 seconds of each other. Seniors Thomas Powars (36th, 16:26) and Thomas Shea (49th, 16:36), junior Hayden Williams (51st, 16:36) and senior James Kelly (61st, 16:47) rounded out the Warriors’ top five.

“We did the best we could and we showed up,” said Whiteside, who set a PR with his first sub 16-minute performance. “It was within a minute or so for our top-five guys.”

Despite the top-five performance, Warriors coach Jamie McCarty said his team still has some work to do heading into the postseason.

“The measuring stick is still Loudoun Valley,” McCarty said. “I feel pretty good that we were able to beat Fauquier, Millbrook and Woodgrove and those teams, but our goal moving forward is closing that gap [with Loudoun Valley]. That’s the team that everybody has the bull’s-eye on and it’s no different for us.”

Millbrook, who had junior Alec Schrank place seventh (15:42), was the only other boys’ team to crack the top 15 by finishing 13th with 372 points.

James Wood, led by junior Max Lindquist (75th, 16:54), came in 23rd, and Handley, led by sophomore John Delaney (54th, 16:40), followed in 29th. Clarke senior Ian Dors (41st, 16:29) paced the Eagles in 30th place.

In the girls’ race, Sherando freshman Camryn Ubert led the way among area runners, finishing 13th in 19:08.

“It wasn’t as flat as I thought it would be but the last mile was pretty flat and downhill so that was probably my favorite [part of the race],” said Ubert, who set a new personal record and led the Warriors to 14th place. “For the first two miles I was a little off pace of what I wanted to be so in the last mile I picked up the pace and I passed a few girls.”

Ubert, sophomore Paige Conner (70th, 20:10), freshman Stella Williams (90th, 20:34), senior Emily Askew (114th, 20:53) and junior Hannah Lothrop (120th, 20:57) rounded out Sherando’s top five as the Warriors totaled 404 points.

James Wood junior Sophia Dorsey came in 32nd (19:37) to lead the Colonels in 16th place

Clarke County, led by freshman Skylar Bragg in 15th (19:13), placed 18th, and Millbrook, led by senior Hannah Croyle (45th, 19:54), came in 19th.

Kelati’s winning time this year was 1:02 faster than her winning time at Third Battle last year.

The two record times from Kelati and Hunter — combined with a relatively flat course and ideal race conditions — led to a lot of PRs.

“With Andrew and Weini you’re talking about two elites,” McCarty said. “They’re national Foot Locker finalists — and maybe both of them are winners — so to be involved in a meet like this is great. [Millbrook] coach [Kevin] Shirk does a great job getting teams and athletes like that here. It helped us. It pulled us to some good times so we’re pretty pleased about that.”

Patriot won the girls’ team title with 128 points. George C. Marshall (152), Heritage (168), Georgetown Day School (182) and West Springfield (209) rounded out the top five.

— Contact Robert Stocks at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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