By Eric J. Wallace
After months of grueling training and fierce competition, the Western Albemarle High School boys cross country team ran their final races November 11 and 12. Taking third place overall at the Virginia High School League’s 3A state championship meet, the team surpassed early expectations, laying the foundations for what looks like a wildly promising 2017 season.
“Going into the season, while we knew we were a young team, we also knew we had a lot of talent,” said coach Lindy Bain.
With no key runners slated to graduate, Bain hoped to develop the team’s talent, gain experience, and position the Warriors for an exemplary showing next year. That said, Bain assessed his youthful roster’s abilities as strong enough to foster hopes of placing at the state championships.
“Our top-seven runners were all going to be coming back, and they were/are all tremendous athletes,” says Bain. “If all went well, and we stuck together through the trials of the season, I saw no reason why we couldn’t have a go at the state championship.”
The team opened by winning their first meet, the area’s largest race, The Ragged Mountain Cup, where Cyrus Rody-Ramazani seized the individual top-spot. Following the August 30 victory, the squad won the Fork Union Invitational on September 10. Then, after a series of strong, but-not-quite-winning showings, the boys won the Jefferson District Meet in early October, where Max Miller finished first individually.
With seven key runners routinely clocking sterling times, going into the conference, region and state championships, Bain was feeling both satisfied and confident. “Our guys worked hard and really excelled throughout the season,” he said. “From the varsity players down through the hardworking, improving up-and-comers, everyone was serious about his running and appreciative and supportive of his teammates….With that team mentality and support, I felt we had a good chance of placing high.”
Ultimately, the team won the Conference 29 championship, placed second in the Region 3A West championship, and took third place at the 3A State championship. When Bain reflected on his team’s performance, he pointed out how close to one another his runners finished at states.
“Out of our seven runners competing in the state meet, among our five finishers, there was only a 16-second spread between when our first and last guys crossed the finish line,” he says. “That’s a pretty amazing stat. It really drives home the depth of this team going into next season.”
Winning All Conference honors were Joe Hawkes, Stuart Terrill, Cyrus Rody-Ramazani, Max Miller, Will Koester, and Jack Eliason. Of these, Rody-Ramazani, Hawkes, and Terrill were named All-Region, with Hawkes and Terrill earning All-State distinctions as well.
“I’m extremely proud of the hard-work and effort we put in this year,” says Bain. “With our top-seven runners and most of our supporting cast coming back, I think our prospects for next year are extremely exciting.”