Heritage High School newcomer Weini Kelati and Loudoun Valley junior Andrew Hunter outpaced fields of approximately 400 runners to claim individual titles in the Oatlands Cross-Country Invitational elite varsity 'A' races Sept. 20 at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg.
Kelati posted a time of 18 minutes, 12 seconds on the hilly 3.1 mile course to finish 32 seconds ahead of Varsity 'A' girls' runner-up Abby Colbert of Jefferson. Loudoun Valley senior Ciara Donohue (18:57) placed third.
Kelati, 17, is in her first year at Heritage. She moved to Leesburg this summer from her native Eritrea, a country bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. A freshman academically, Kelati has two years of athletic eligibility remaining.
Junior Georgie Mackenzie (19:20) provided Heritage with another strong finish in 11th place. Tuscarora freshman Emma Wolcott (19:54) placed 23rd and Loudoun County sophomore Grace Howard (20:31) finished 41st.
In the boys' race, Hunter continued to set the bar. The reigning VHSL 3A state champion blazed through the Oatlands course in 15:21, 34 seconds better than his closest competitor - Evan Woods of Walt Whitman. Hunter has now won the first two Virginia Triple Crown events.
Broad Run senior Ethan Newland (16:13) was the next Loudoun runner to cross the finish line in seventh place. Tuscarora junior Fitsum Seyoum (16:31) finished 13th, while Stone Bridge juniors Andrew Matson (16:42) and Jackson Morton (16:44) placed 19th and 21st respectively.
Freedom junior Brandon Wells (16:58), Woodgrove senior Joshua Cromwell (17:04), Tuscarora junior Jarred Silverman (17:05) and Stone Bridge junior Joe Valle (17:11) each cracked the top 50.
Brentsville District won the boys' team title and James Madison claimed the girls' crown. Stone Bridge (boys) and Heritage (girls) earned Loudoun's top team finishes with matching seventh-place efforts.
Along with the Varsity 'A' races, the Oatlands Invitational included boys' and girls' races at the Varsity 'B', JV Upperclassmen and JV Underclassmen levels. Overall, more than 3,000 athletes representing nearly 100 high schools competed.
-Check back for photos from the Oatlands Invitational.