Cross-Country Preview: Historic Triangle Runners Eye Return to State Meet

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Tabb's Lindsey Blanks will be one of the top runners in the Historic Triangle this year. (file photo)
Tabb’s Lindsey Blanks will be one of the top runners in the Historic Triangle this year. (file photo)

Historic Triangle cross-country runners made statements at their respective state meets during the 2014 season and the area once again looks poised to produce successful postseason runners.

Local teams, with the exception of Jamestown, will start their seasons this Saturday during the Albert E. Dorner: Newport News Cross Country Invitational.

On the boys side, Grafton’s Dylan Lorio-MacNamara and Lafayette’s Konrad Steck earned All-State honors last year and are looking to challenge for state championships.

Warhill’s Hannah Hrncir, Bruton’s Clara Wincheski and Tabb’s Lindsey Blanks were All-State runners in 2014, while other talented runners like Lauren Blanks (Tabb), Kathleen Yates (Jamestown) and Rachel Brotherton (Bruton) will look to earn similar honors this season.

With so much talent throughout the Historic Triangle, this cross-country season is shaping up to be a competitive one.

Below are cross-country previews for each Bay Rivers District team in the Historic Triangle:

Group 4A
Grafton

Head Coach: Chris Sievers and Nick Valenti
Runners to Watch: Dylan Lorio-MacNamara (senior), Price Owens (sophomore), Miles Owens (junior), Dylan Comer (senior) Tacoma Mendelsohn (junior), Meredith Beaver (sophomore)

Season Outlook: Grafton’s boys and girls cross-country teams are coming off appearances in the 2014 state meet and are looking to reach that level of success this year. The Grafton boys took third place at the state meet and return their top runner from last season, Lorio-MacNamara, who posted a season-best time of 16:05. In addition to returning their top runner, the Clippers also return the Owens brothers and Comer, all of whom ran sub-17:30 last season. The Grafton girls will have to replace their top runner from last season in Rachel Bloxom, but the Clippers still have talented runners such as Mendelsohn and Beaver. While Grafton’s girls team could take a small step back this season, the boys team looks to be just as strong, if not stronger, than last year.

Jamestown

Head Coach: Dan Schlickenmeyer
Runners to Watch: Paul Keurajian (senior), Calvin Hart (junior), Cameron Coates (senior), Kathleen Yates (senior), Gaphne Glueck (senior), Loran Blackmon (junior)

Season Outlook: While the Jamestown boys cross-country team did not finish how they would have liked during the 2014 state meet — the Eagles finished in 12th place out of 12 teams — the Eagles return most of last year’s top contributors and could reach the state meet again. Jamestown’s top runner Keurajian returns this season and is coming off a season-best time of 16:51 during the state meet. Hart, Coates and Daniel Napolitano will also provide a solid starting lineup for the Eagles. The girls team returns Yates, the only Jamestown girl to reach the state meet last season. While Glueck and Blackmon finished strong last season, they will both need to significantly improve their times to reach the state meet this year.

Lafayette

Head Coach: Craig Wortman
Runners to Watch: Konrad Steck (junior), Cade Moreno (senior), Delaney Savedge (senior), Summer Chambers (senior), Brooke Crookston (junior)

Season Outlook: Both of Lafayette’s cross-country teams had success during the 2014 state meet with the boys finishing third and the girls taking fourth. Steck returns for the boys team after earning All-State honors last season, while Moreno took 42nd in the state meet. Unfortunately for the Rams, they will have to find a replacement for their top runner from last season, James Hart. The Lafayette girls team is in a similar situation to their male counterpoints, needing to replace their top runner from last year, Adriana Hooks. The Rams return talented runners in Savedge, Chambers and Crookston, which will help soften the blow. Despite their losses, Lafayette should once again be in contention to reach the state meet.

Group 3A
Tabb

Head Coach: Robin Moon and Erin Curry
Runners to Watch: Preston Klekar (sophomore), Jacob Kaminer (junior), Lindsey Blanks (senior), Lauren Blanks (sophomore), Emma Stephens (junior)

Season Outlook: The Tabb cross-country team had both its boys and girls teams place in the top five during the 2014 state meet. While the Tabb boys will have to replace their top two runners from last year in Baron Kieffer and Bryce Williams, the Tigers still return state-caliber runners in Klekar and Kaminer. Tabb also returns three other runners who ran sub-18 minutes last year and should fill out the starting rotation nicely. While the Tabb boys faced some turnover, the girls team is largely the same toward the top. The Blanks sisters return as the top two runners from last year, but there is a bit of a drop off from the second runner to the third runner in the starting lineup. If Tabb can shore up its depth on the girls side, the Tigers should be poised to send both teams to the state meet again.

Warhill

Head Coach: Kameron Schaefer
Runners to Watch: Matthew Hrncir (senior), Daniel Cretney (senior), Spencer Conti (junior), Hannah Hrncir (senior), Sianna Ferguson (sophomore)

Season Outlook: The Warhill boys team had a balanced performance during their sixth-place finish during the 2014 state meet, with their top four runners finishing within five places of each other among scoring runners. Unfortunately for the Lions, they will have to replace two of their top runners last year in Spencer Conti and Christopher Short. Returning for Warhill is Cretney, who finished 26th in the state meet, and Hrncir, who took 36th. Similar to the boys team, the Warhill girls will also deal with the loss of two of their top runners from last year, Miriam Buscher and Jordan Barker. Hannah Hrncir returns as the top girls runner for Warhill this year and is coming off a top-2o finish at the state meet last year. The Lions return Ferguson, who helped the Lions finish ninth in the state meet last year, but will likely have depth issues toward the bottom of their starting rotation.

York

Head Coach: Jim Bradley
Runners to Watch: Christian Yi (junior), Alasdair Thomson (junior), Ryan Born (senior), Hannah Marcella (sophomore), Alyssa Costello (junior), Lori Prieto (sophomore)

Season Outlook: York’s boys cross-country team struggled in 2014, with the boys team unable to reach the regional meet. One of the bright spots on the team was Yi, a junior who posted a team-best 17:11 last season. Thomson and Born are good athletes and runners who return for the Falcons, but they will need to show improvement from last year if York wants to reach the regional meet. The York girls had more success than their male counterparts, finishing seventh in the regional meet. The Falcons return three of their top four runners from last year in Marcella, Costello and Prieto. On paper, the York girls team should be able to improve on last year’s performances and again reach the regional meet.

Group 2A
Bruton

Head Coach: Mark Tompkins
Runners to Watch: Cameron Wojcieszak (senior), Curt Ivanoff (senior), Dylan Shannon (senior), Clara Wincheski (sophomore), Rachel Brotherton (junior), Jenny Schuster (junior)

Season Outlook: The Bruton Panthers return one male runner, Wojcieszak, who competed in the 2014 state meet. Wojcieszak, who finished 32nd in the state meet, was their best runner last year and will fill that role again this year. Behind Wojcieszak is Ivanoff and Shannon, both of whom were sub-20 minute runners for the Panthers last year. The Bruton girls team had a successful year in 2014, finishing fifth in the state meet. The Panthers return their top runner Wincheski, an All-State runner who finished fifth in the state meet. Bruton also returns Brotherton, who finished 31st at the state meet, and Schuster, who was 40th in the state meet. With so much of their starting core returning, the Panthers are in good shape to compete for a state title this year on the girls side.