September 16, 2017. Woodberry Forest Cross Country Invitational. Orange Cross Country.

The Orange County High School cross country teams headed north to Winchester for their final meets of the season on Saturday to get a taste of top level competition and to take advantage of a fast course.

Coach Matt Gilliam said the day wasn’t so much about wins and losses. “We knew we were going to be going against the best of the best. Loudoun Valley was there, they’re ranked number one in the U.S., and most of their competition was there. You can’t always worry about that in this sport. Today was about times.”

And the Hornets did run some historically fast times on the course.

In the girls varsity race the five Orange scorers, Mary Oelrich (21:37), Jenna Faulconer (21:54), Gracie Steigler (22:48), Alden Carter (23:02), and Kylie Trask (23:14) all had their fastest times of the year on the 5K course at Third Battle Battlefield. Faulconer and Trask ran new personal bests.

Coach Gilliam was pleased with the results. “We’ve never had six girls come in under 24:00 on the same day (Olivia Knights ran a 22:43 in the junior varsity race), and I’m positive that’s the fastest we’ve ever gotten five girls across the line. I think we’ve set ourselves up nicely for some strong showings at Districts and Regionals.”

In addition to Knights running a personal best in the JV race, two other JV runners, Kassidy Rose (26:25) and D’Viyne Alexander (28:24) also established new personal records.

The boys team also had a historic day with nine boys coming across in under 20 minutes in the 5K race.

Ethan Pettyjohn (16:49) continued to lower his personal record, while Bobby Lee (17:35) also posted a new best. Griffin Floyd’s (18:17), Chance Bowers (18:20) and Tyler Trask (18:30) finished up the scoring for the team. Floyd had a season best run while Trask had a new personal record. Jarious Faulkner (19:12), who also posted a new personal best, and Luke Wilson (19:53), who had a season-best time, were the displacers for the team.

The junior varsity added two more sub-20 times and a plethora more personal records. Thomas Bower (19:14), Latham Browning (19:46), Ryder Rose (20:09), Paul Gordon (20:46), Jackson Garnett (21:14), Aaron Ratcliff (22:00), Andrew Horn (23:10), and Adam Doresey (23:29) all had new personal records, while Josiah Koehler (23:16) and Hunter Gilliam (30:39) had new season-bests.

Coach Gilliam was satisfied with the day.

“You look at the score sheets and see we were 32nd in the girls race and 36th in the boys race and you’re initial impression might be, ‘That’s not so good.’ However, those schools ahead of us are some powerhouse schools from all over the East Coast, not just Virginia. We wanted to run with teams like this to see if they could pull faster runs out of us. We had worked all fall to try and peak at this race and it’s fun to see it work out. We’ve got to take what we’ve learned and apply it Nov. 2, if we want a chance to get to the state championships. That may seem like a long time to our kids, but it’s just nine practices. We had to show we were ready today, and I think we proved it to ourselves.”

The team’s next meet is the Jefferson District Championships, Oct. 24 at Pleasant Grove Park in Fluvanna County.

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