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Those ladies can run!
The Jefferson Forest girls cross country team capped a superb season by winning the State 4A crown Friday at Great Meadow.
It was a belated birthday gift to Head Coach Jerome Loy, who marked his special day exactly one week before the meet.
Most folks check Social Security options on their 65th birthday. Loy was busy checking splits.
Just as they have all season long, his charges outran a tough crew from E.C. Glass. The Lady Cavs took the title with a total of 53 points. Glass took the runner-up trophy with 85 points, just ahead of Midlothian (93), Loudoun County (118) and Woodgrove (132).
That means that Jefferson Forest and E.C. Glass finished 1-2 (in that order) at the Seminole District, Conference 24, Region 4A-North and State meets.
That's a tough district!
Erin Saunders took second place, overall. The junior speedster, was overtaken by E.C. Glass's diminutive dasher, Libby Davidson.
Saunders, who was ailing from a cold, went from the depths of disheartenment to the crest of contentment in scant minutes.
"It was weird," she recalled. "One moment, I was bawling and the next I was really happy. You never know if your team needed that point."
As it turned out, there was little reason for Saunders' concern. Every single one of the seven Lady Cavs that ran the race hit a personal best.
Here are their places and times against the best 103 runners in the state:
2. Erin Saunders 18:32
11. Madelynn Knight 19:15
16. Alyssa Shupe 19:26
21. Abby May 19:48
36. Carsen Wilkerson 20:26
38. Alexa Hunter 20:31
65. Elizabeth Ruhland 21:21
It was the first time a JF cross country team has hoisted the top prize since the 2001 season. There are members of the current team who had barely learned to walk when that feat was accomplished.
Well, since learning to toddle, these ladies have learned to run. And to run great distances in a rapid fashion.
"This means everything to me," enthused Wilkerson. "This is the happiest moment of my life!"
-Knight, who along with Saunders, earned an individual medal (top 15) has been the team's "ace up our sleeve."
She seemingly came from out of nowhere and now, in her first semester of high school, she is a champion.
-JF had two seniors on its team this season (Wilkerson and Elizabeth Francis) Glass had no seniors among its top five, so there's an excellent chance that the JF-Glass rivalry that was so riveting this season may well carry into next year.
-Loy, who isn't afraid to ham it up, belted out a version of Queen's "We are the Champions," at the team banquet two days later.
Don't worry ladies: There's scant chance the coach will quit his day job to hit the rock 'n roll circuit.
-The team invited driver Russell Fellers to join them on the podium for collection of the first-place trophy. "We love Russell," said Saunders. "He puts up with us and deserved to be up there."
-According to Athletic Director John Otey, the team will be recognized at an upcoming JF basketball game.
-The win should go a long way in helping position JF for a shot at the Wells Fargo Cup, which is awarded at the end of the school year for overall athletic excellence.