Girls’ cross country blows away competition in Monticello Midweek Madness

Boys take third place with solid performance

By Duncan Nixon, Correspondent

The Fluco girls’ and boys’ cross country squads traveled down Route 53 to Monticello High School on Wednesday (Oct. 10) to participate in the Monticello Midweek Madness meet. Five teams competed on the course laid out on the practice fields behind the high school. The competing schools were host school Monticello High School, Fluvanna County, Charlottesville High, William Monroe High and private school Tandem Friends, whose athletes only had to walk across the street.

The girls’ race was up first, and the outcome was basically no contest. Fluco standout, sophomore Emily Smeds, was far and away the fastest runner. Smeds finished the 5,000-meter (approximately three-mile) course in a time of 20.22.3. This was nearly two minutes faster than the second place finisher. A two-minute winning margin in a race of this length is extremely impressive. Marathon races (26.4 miles) are often won by a margin of less than two minutes.

Of course, a cross country meet is a team sport, so having the fastest runner gives a team an advantage, but not a big one. The team with the fastest runner can easily lose the match if it does not have depth. The winning team is determined by adding the finishing places of each team’s top five runners, with the low score winning. If a team were to take second, third and fifth, it would have 10 for its first three, and they would be way ahead of a team that took first, seventh and tenth for a total of 18 for its first three finishers.

At this meet, the Flucos showed plenty of depth and easily came in with the lowest team score. The Fluco girls took five of the top 10 slots for a team score of 28. Charlottesville finished in second, far behind at 46. Fluco junior Hattie Lintecum was the third place finisher. In sixth place was Fluco freshman Emily Beckman, who was only five seconds out of fourth place. Fluco sophomore Anja Vernatter finished in eighth place and junior Maryann Chittenden was 10th. The Flucos’ depth is further demonstrated by the fact that sophomore Samantha Clarke, sophomore Summer Craig, junior MacKenzie Morris, junior Kieri Hart and sophomore Sylar Solga all finished in the top 30.

It is also impressive to note that Coach Rose Brogan pointed out before the meet that one of her top runners, Brianna Parker, was out injured. Brogan has consistently fielded large and talented squads and the Fluco girls’ cross country teams have a history of top performances.

In the boys’ competition, the Flucos ran a number of solid performances and finished in third place overall. Coach Tom Casto said that he has a large group of very young runners, but the team is thin when it comes to upperclassmen. The Fluco boys were behind Tandem Friends 10-25 based on the first two runners to finish for each team, but the Flucos had a deeper squad and, when the top five were considered, the Flucos edged out Tandem for third place.

Finishing 12 and 13 for the Flucos were sophomore Troy Stevens and senior Sterling Ruff. Coming in 18 and 19 for the Flucos were freshman Nathan Valentin and Matthew Cantagallo. Senior Ethan Vernatter was the 30th point finisher to round out the Fluco squad.

The Flucos hosted a meet Oct. 17 and travel to an away meet Oct. 20. The Jefferson District meet is scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Fluco home course at Pleasant Grove. The Region meet will be held Nov. 1.

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