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Loudoun Valley makes history with perfect score at Class 4 cross-country meet

The Loudoun Valley Vikings dominated the competition at the Class 4 cross-country meet to claim their third consecutive state championship.—Times-Mirror/Mike Walgren
His golden jersey flapping in the chilly Piedmont breeze, Loudoun Valley’s Sam Affolder picked up his pack-leading pace and accelerated toward the finish line. He could see red numbers ahead of him, the finish-line clock ticking up the time since he and 103 others began their five-kilometer run around Great Meadow in The Plains, to decide the 2017 Virginia High School League Class 4 state boys’ cross-country championship Nov. 10.

Affolder flew across the finish line, slowed, turned with hands on hips and - for the first time in more than 15 minutes - looked back the other way. He saw teammate Peter Morris come steaming in right after him; moments later they saw teammates Colton Bogucki and Jacob Hunter race for third (Bogucki taking it by a second).

With growing enthusiasm, the four watched as yet another gold-shirted Valley runner, Connor Wells, broke open and sprinted toward them. Observing from the grassy incline beside the course's final stretch, a robust section of Loudoun Valley supporters raised their cheers into an uproar as they realized history had been made: A perfect sweep of the top five in the state meet.

Valley’s record-shattering score of 15, which cannot mathematically be bettered, improves the previous lowest score of 17, achieved twice and set most recently by Handley in 1974.

Wells stomped across the line and into a maze of high-fives and hugs with his fellow Vikings. That Valley cruised to victory at states was not surprising - the Vikings came in as the state’s two-time defending team champions for Class 4 and are currently ranked the No. 1 high school program in the nation by DyeStat, No. 2 by several others. But to sweep the top five, and to place sophomore Kevin Carlson eighth, was a delight to co-head coach Joan Hunter.

“This was pretty remarkable,” she said. “I thought we might tie that record of 17 points, but going one-through-five ... Everybody had to be on and they were.”

Affolder is a junior in his first season with the Vikings after transferring from Carlisle, Pa. He said one of his goals at his new school was to contribute to a state championship team.

“I was focused on my own race, but after I crossed the finish line I saw Peter, then I saw three more Valley boys coming in after him. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Affolder said. “For this being my first year, to win and to get a perfect score means a lot to me.”

Valley’s season isn’t over yet. The team travels to Cary, N.C., for the Nike Cross Southeast Regionals on Nov. 25. A top-two finish there would put the Vikings in the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 2 in Portland, Ore.

“This really helps build our confidence going into the next meet,” Affolder said.

Teamwork puts Titans on podium

In the ensuing awards ceremony, it was foregone that the Vikings would again be crowned state champions. That’s why the Dominion Titans’ reaction to being announced as runners-up was as if they’d won it all.

Dominion edged third-place Blacksburg by one point.

“This is huge for us as a program,” a very pleased Dominion head coach Jon Wesoky said. “We didn’t have anybody in the top 15, but we had five guys right after that and that’s what we needed to win as a team.”

The Titans pack mentality worked. Nicolas Vandenheede finished 20th, setting the pace for teammates Omar Aougab, Ian Whitfield, Harry Challis and Harrison Helmich, who streamed in together over a seven-second span.

“We just ran as a pack and started picking people off as a group, and that helps your overall score,” Wesoky said. “We made the podium, which is huge, so we’ll see where we can go in the future.”

Valley’s Morris leads girls

It was a photo finish in the Class 4 girls’ race as Valley senior Natalie Morris sprinted down the final stretch, stride for stride with Blacksburg’s Kaitlynn Wolfe. The Valley girl gained a last-moment edge and threw herself across the finish line not a step ahead, ending her high school career a state champion for the first time.

“I was closing on her that whole stretch, so it was pretty amazing to actually catch her,” said Morris, who shadowed Wolfe throughout the race before the closing sprint. “I’ve been thinking about a state championship since freshman year and it’s been my goal this whole season, so this is awesome.”

The Valley braintrust advised Morris to keep within striking distance of Wolfe.

“We told her she needed to put herself in position to win, not just let the Blacksburg girl run away with it,” Hunter said. “We kept telling her to stay close, and she did. She was tenacious.”

Morris’ individual crown and freshman Ricky Fetterolf’s fifth-place performance was enough to give the Vikings the runner-up trophy, though Blacksburg came away with the team title.

A late push allowed Loudoun Valley senior Natalie Morris to pass Blacksburg’s Kaitlynn Wolfe for the Class 4 girls' individual title Nov. 10 at Great Meadow.--Times-Mirror/Mike Walgren


Boys Team
1. Loudoun Valley, 15
2. Dominion, 103
3. Blacksburg, 104
4. Grafton, 123
5. Midlothian, 138

Girls Team
1. Blacksburg, 34
2. Loudoun Valley, 58
3. Grafton, 118
4. Jefferson Forest, 124
5. Midlothian, 130

Boys Individual*
1. Sam Affolder (LV) 15:20
2. Peter Morris (LV) 15:26
3. Colton Bogucki (LV) 15:55
4. Jacob Hunter (LV) 15:56
5. Connor Wells (LV) 16:04
8. Kevin Carlson (LV) 16:17
9. Rylan Pettit (W) 16:17
20. Nicolas Vandenheede (D) 16:47
27. Omar Aougab (D) 16:55
28. Ian Whitfield (D) 16:57
31. Harry Challis (D) 17:01
32. Harrison Helmich (D) 17:02
37. Jacob Windle (LV) 17:09
73. Luke Miller (D) 18:00
88. Jarod Johnson (D) 18:15

Girls Individual*
1. Natalie Morris (LV) 18:16
5. Ricky Fetterolf (LV) 18:58
13. Jenny Schilling (H) 19:30
19. Alice Roberts (LV) 19:53
20. Sophie Hudak (W) 19:55
23. Leah Snyder (LV) 19:58
28. Abby Keane (LV) 20:03
34. Audrey Corbet (H) 20:18
36. Heather Feconda (LV) 20:20
41. Noelle Saine (LV) 20:35

*Only Loudoun runners listed

Photos by Mike Walgren
























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