Some of William Monroe’s cross country runners will be headed to states this weekend.
The William Monroe cross country teams traveled to Culpeper on the crisp, cool Saturday morning after Friday’s deluge of rain. The three inches of rain on the course added to the challenge of racing.
The ladies’ race was first on the schedule, where performance had to be at its best to advance to the state meet as the top three teams and next five individuals exclusively from those teams proceed forward to the Nov. 13 state meet in Salem.
After warming up on the soggy course the girls toed the line, stern faced, with excitement and the nervousness of meeting expectations. The cannon boomed and the stampede began with a challenging hill within the first 400 meters to quickly get the lactic acid in the muscles. The girls knew they had to leave it all on the course if they were to have a shot of getting out of the Region.
Elli Pursel and Olivia Hoffacker took charge for the Monroe girls with Sydney Orange, Paige Hoffman and Eliah Dojack on their heels. Pursel charged to Monroe’s top spot in the hunt to qualify for the big meet as one of the exclusive five, while fighting off a stubborn side stitch in the second mile. She stayed within reach until the last stretch, where a James Monroe girl nipped her by 2 seconds, taking the fifth exclusive spot and finishing with a heartbreaker. Soon after Pursel came Hoffacker, running an awesome final high school race as a senior. Orange was next and strong and steady Hoffman took the fourth spot on the team, Dojack was fifth, followed by Livia Kilby and Elizabeth Kilby.
The men toed the line after watching the girls slosh through the now even messier course with intensity visible on all of their faces. The cannon blasted and the blistering pace began as the boys hammered up the first hill, fighting for position. They knew to advance as a team or be in the exclusive five, there was no room for error and every step mattered.
Conrad Bruton took charge, holding a top five overall spot in the first mile, but was soon overtaken by teammates Evan Young and Schuyler Nitzsche—who were running gutsy races in hope of making the exclusive five. As they traversed the shoe-swallowing mud-flying course to come to the final stretch with fans cheering, it was Young pulling in at 10th overall with Nitzsche right on his heels at 11th and Bruton 13th, earning All-Region honors and making the exclusive five to qualify for the State Meet. Nathan Lindegren was in the hunt but was passed in the final stretch, another heartbreaker. Following Lindegren were Colin Beverage, Brody Wilson and Gabriel Henkel to round out the top seven. The boys placed 4th overall, one spot out of going as a team to the state meet.