The Western Albemarle boys cross country team finished one of the best seasons in Central Virginia high school history on Saturday with a top-five finish in the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon.

The Warriors finished fifth in a field filled with the nation’s best high school cross country teams. Led by individual champion Nico Young (14:52.3), Newbury Park (California) won the national team title.

Senior Joe Hawkes was Western Albemarle’s top finisher, placing 41st after completing the historic Glendoveer Golf Course in 15:45.5. Hawkes, who won the 2018 VHSL Class 3 individual state championship, averaged 5:04.0 per mile during Saturday’s race.

Jack Eliason, the 2019 VHSL Class 3 individual state champion, was 51st in 15:51.0 for the Warriors. Stuart Terrill placed 84th in 16:09.3, while Will Bonner (16:26.7) was 113th. Joseph Taylor rounded out the Warriors’ top five runners with a 127th-place finish in 16:34.3. Thomas Kallen earned a 132nd-place finish in 16:36.0 and Owen Shifflett was 192nd in 17:17.0.

Western’s average time among its five scoring runners was 16:10 and the separation between the Warriors’ top runner (Hawkes) and the fifth-fastest runner (Taylor) was just 48.9 seconds.

Saturday’s race capped a magical season for Western Albemarle.

The Warriors began the season with a victory in the Ragged Mountain Cup at Panorama Farms in August. Then in November, Western won its third straight VHSL Class 3 state championship in dominating fashion, sweeping the top three spots and five of the top six en route to earning a perfect score.

Last week, WAHS earned a second-place finish in the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast Regional Meet in Cary, North Carolina, to qualify for the National Finals. And on Saturday in Oregon, the Warriors cemented their place among the nation’s elite with a top-five finish.

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