Albemarle High cross country coach Buzz Male made a two-hour trip to Leesburg last Thursday to walk the five-kilometer layout of the Oatlands Plantation course that was poised to host the Oatlands Invitiational meet on Saturday, a race that featured more than 100 cross country teams on just the boys side. He wanted to build a strategy for his runners going into the race that had a loaded field.
Male came back thrilled.
“When I got up there I was so excited about racing this course,” Male said. “It’s just a really good course. I told the kids ‘It’s almost you against this course as opposed to you against a team.”
Whoever — or whatever — Albemarle raced against Saturday, the Patriots triumphed. Albemarle rolled to a 51-point victory over second place Chantilly, with the Patriots notching a team score of 146 while Chantilly checked in with a 197.
More than the scores or the times, Male is excited about what a victory at Oatlands, an all-grass, one-loop course that includes a pair of creek crossings, slight declines, inclines, steep uphills and rapid downhills, says about his team’s mental preparation and approach.
“(The Oatlands course) tests every little part of what a kid has to learn,” Male said. “It’s a tactical course as opposed to some courses that are just meant to be fast. I really believe this was a course that took some mental, tactical racing knowledge.”
The Patriots didn’t benefit from a solid night’s sleep either, boarding the bus at 5:30 a.m. to make the drive north. Ben Deal ran sick and according to Male, never even mentioned feeling ill.
Adam Visokay continued his torrid performance this fall with a fifth place, falling in behind two runners from second place Chantilly, another for Jefferson High and Annandale’s top runner. He checked in with a 15:52, just 22 seconds off Chantilly junior Sean McGorty’s championship pace.
Three Albemarle runners coasted in from 11th to 32nd as sophomore Ryan Thomas, senior Chris Springer and Deal crossed the line. Thomas took 11th, Springer 15th and Deal 32nd. Joe Krohn, a junior, took 83rd to wrap up the scoring and put Albemarle on top of 46 boys teams in the Varsity A Division and another 66 teams in the Varsity B Division. There are around five runners battling it out for the fifth spot on Albemarle’s varsity which appears set to make some serious noise as the season progresses.
“I think our guys don’t want to jeopardize what they know can be a great season,” Male said. “They’ve rallied around each other. These seasons don’t come along very often. I’ve never had 15 seniors.”
Monticello High’s boys finished 25th in the Varsity A grouping with some solid depth setting the pace as the highest finished was 73rd place Ryan Wolfe, a senior. Anthony Tamberrino, Reid Dickerson, Dylan Ferrer and Keenan Krantz rounded out the Mustangs’ scoring. Wolfe clocked a 17:16 and Tamberrino wasn’t far off his pace with a 17:23 while Dickerson checked in at 17:47.
The Albemarle girls checked in at 13th in the Girls A Division at Oatlands that included 41 squads. Allison Huschke crossed the line first for the Patriots and 14th overall with a time of 19:38. The junior won the Ragged Mountain Cup back in early September and continues to pace Albemarle’s squad. Ciera Ulan checked in at 52nd with a time of 20:28 and Kristen Smith and Alexandra Stokes finished back-to-back at 98th and 99th with times of 21:07. Emily Smith capped the Albemarle scoring with a time of 21:41 in 149th place but Emma D’Antoni wasn’t far behind at 21:49.
Albemarle put together a second girls squad for the Varsity B race and that group finished 12th in that race led by Carolyn Pugh.
Monticello’s girls finished 18th in the Varsity B Division, led by Madeline and Isabella Hermsmeier. Madeline, the senior Hermsmeier, grabbed a second place individually in that division. Charlottesville High’s girls team took 33rd in that race, with Katherine Bouchard leading the way for the Black Knights with a 45th place.
The Albemarle boys also put together a second team in the Varsity B flight, taking 13th with Will Hunt pacing the quintet. Charlottesville finished 34th in the boys Varsity B as Malloy Owen set the standard with an 18:01 and a 66th place.