Caroline Alcorta’s 16:45 leads West Springfield to conference cross-country title

October 30, 2013

West Springfield Coach Chris Pellegrini thumbed through his clipboard to find a list of the all-time performers at the Burke Lake Park cross-country course.

He pointed just below the fourth name, indicating where runner Caroline Alcorta’s name will reside.

On Wednesday, Alcorta became the fifth-best performer on the Burke Lake Course during the VHSL 6A Conference 7 meet, posting a personal-best of 16 minutes 45 seconds.

In the boys’ 6A Conference 7 race, Lake Braddock’s Alex Corbett won with a time of 15:14. Finishing behind Corbett were South County’s Alec Jones (15:35) and West Springfield’s Owen Buck (15:36).

Alcorta jumped to an early lead and coasted to another strong finish, something that has become familiar this season.


Two-time cross-country All-Met Caroline Alcorta captured the Virginia 6A Conference 7 girls’ title on Wednesday. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

“I’m trying to go undefeated for as long as possible,” Alcorta said. “It’s hard to do, but I’m glad it’s working out well so far.”

Pellegrini said Alcorta has won all of her races by about 30 seconds each race this season.

Finishing behind Alcorta were Lake Braddock’s Hannah Christen (17:22) and West Springfield’s Katie Kennedy (17:27). The Spartans won the team meet with 30 points. Lake Braddock (44) finished second and West Potomac (86) was third.

Alcorta entered the race hoping to become the third-best performer by breaking the 16:42 mark set by Lake Braddock’s Sophie Chase (2012) and Hayfield’s Melissa Dewey (2004).

She came short Wednesday but will have another opportunity to best that mark next week.

“I really want to break 16:40 now,” Alcorta said. “I know I can get that.”

The weather reached the mid-60s for the race, making it slightly warmer than what runners generally prefer, Pellegrini said. The early-morning rain also made the paved part of the Burke Lake course a bit slippery, which Alcorta said slowed her down some on the second mile.

Given those factors and a competition element, Pellegrini said it wouldn’t be out of the question for Alcorta to potentially improve her time by 15 seconds during next week’s regional race, which will also be at Burke Lake Park.

If Alcorta is able to make that leap, she’d be pushing the Burke Lake course’s second-best performer mark of 16:30, held by former Annandale runner Aimee Harms. The all-time best on the Burke Lake course is 16:09, set by Langley’s Erin Keogh in 1985.

“The fact the weather gets cooler that second week and you combine all of the conferences worth of talent usually makes for a faster race,” Pellegrini said. “I also think the fact you get a second chance one week later on the same course, that familiarity breeds a little more confidence.”

In the boys’ race, “I definitely felt I had control of the race,” Corbett said. “I was definitely a little tired in the second mile and had to push through in the final mile.”

Woodson (45) won the boys’ team conference title by a slim margin over Lake Braddock (46), with West Springfield (66) finishing third.

The 6A Conference 5 boys and girls races were also at Burke Lake Park on Wednesday. Oakton’s Allie Klimkiewicz won with a personal best of 17:06, making her the 15th-best performer at Burke Lake.

“This gives me some confidence that I can dip under 17 [minutes] at regionals,” Klimkiewicz said.

Finishing behind Klimkiewicz were Robinson’s Macey Schweikert (17:12) and Oakton’s Hailey Dougherty (17:39). Oakton (28) won the team meet with Robinson (52) and Chantilly (77) finishing second and third.

Oakton’s John Stoney won the boys’ race with a time of 15:11. Chantilly’s Ryan McGorty (15:25) and Robinson’s Dustin Jutras (15:28) finished behind him.

Stoney said the race started a bit more conservatively than he thought, which allowed him to conserve energy before his final kick on the last mile.

“I thought we were going to go out real fast so I was surprised everyone went out slow,” Stoney said. “But my coaches told me to relax and go with the group and make my move when I should.”

Elsewhere, Patriots’s Rachel McArthur won the 6A Conference 8 race in Manassas with a time of 19:02. The Battlefield girls won the conference title. Osbourn Park’s Nick Causey (16:10) won the boys’ race with his team edging Battlefield for the conference championship.

In the 5A Conference 14 meet, Stone Bridge’s Brady Guertin won the boys’ individual title held at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg. Stone Bridge also won the team title.

Tuscarora’s Anna Wasko won the girls’ race with her team also claiming a team conference title.

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