With the finish line in sight and a favorable first-place lead at the Region II cross-country meet, Loudoun County High School senior Patrick Joseph’s face displayed physical agony.
Unrelenting, the Dulles District champion gritted his teeth and sprinted the final quarter mile to secure his first-ever regional title Nov. 1 in Leesburg.
The venue was changed from Oatlands Plantation to the Tuscarora High School/Morven Park course last minute due to Hurricane Sandy, but the modification didn’t phase Joseph, who finished in a blistering 15 minutes and 33 seconds.
“I wanted it,” Joseph said. “I tried to keep as close to the front as possible.”
Joseph’s time not only won him the title, but placed him 13 seconds ahead of rival and defending Virginia AA state champion Thomas Madden of Skyline, who had bested Joseph twice this season. The two boys jockeyed for the lead with Joseph pulling ahead in the last mile.
“It feels good to win the region title, but it feels better to beat him head-to-head, finally,” Joseph said. “He’s going to be out for blood next time.”
On the boys’ side, there were eight Loudoun runners who placed top 15 in regionals to qualify for the state meet Nov. 10 at Great Meadows in the Plains.
Trent Lancaster, the lone participant from Dominion, finished fourth at 16:18 and was followed by Briar Woods’ Ryan Hughes two seconds later. Tuscarora teammates John Dooney (eighth), Logan Feierbach (10th) and Sam Brazer (14th) all finished within eight seconds of each other to make top 15. Austin Gilbert of Loudoun County and Chris Schopper of Briar Woods crossed the finish line just milliseconds apart to place 11th and 12th respectively.
Potomac Falls earned the top local team finish in the boys’ race, placing third to qualify for the state meet. True to their pack style of running, all seven Panthers finished within 25 seconds of each other to stay in the top 40 finishers out of 93 runners. Ethan Pacifico (16:53) paced the Panthers with his 20th place finish.
On the girls’ side, the home crowd erupted when host Tuscarora was announced as Region II champions. Tuscarora runners Anna Wasko, Kelly Reilly, Natalie Rosas, Raiya Al-Nsour, Lori Kostka, Courtney Walker and Colleen Heberle jumped to the front to accept their trophy.
“Coming in freshman year, I didn’t expect too much,” Reilly said. “It’s more than I could have hoped for.”
Wasko, a sophomore, led the Huskies with her 10th place finish, boasting of time of 19:44.
“She’s a rockstar,” Tuscarora coach Rebecca Puterio said of Wasko. “She’s one of those kids who’s so solid that you don’t worry if she’s going to have an off day or not because she’s always there mentally.”
Individually, freshman Emma Gillies of Woodgrove was the top Loudoun finisher, claiming third place with a time of 19:02.
Also finishing in the top 15 for girls were Loudoun Valley’s Molly Polizotto (seventh) and Carolyn Conley (13th). Dulles District champion Jackie Deffer finished ninth after being inched out at the finish line by Liberty’s Taylor Brown. Ana Valdez of the Raiders rounded out the Loudoun pool with her 14th place finish.
The Virginia AA state cross-country meet is Nov. 10 at Great Meadow in The Plains. The girls race starts at 11:45 a.m. with the boys to follow at 12:30 p.m.
Local pair qualify for AAA state meet
Stone Bridge High School junior Brady Guertin and Freedom junior Siobhan O’Toole are headed to the AAA state meet after posting top 15 individual finishes at their respective region meets.
Guertin placed ninth at the Northern Region meet with a time of 15:31. Stone Bridge, who won its first-ever Liberty District title a week earlier, finished fifth as a team, one spot shy of qualifying for states.
O’Toole punched her ticket for the state meet with a 14th place showing at the Northwest Region meet. O’Toole crossed the finish line in 20:04.
The Group AAA state meet will also be held Nov. 10 at Great Meadow.
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