Potomac High's Jason Lewis and Brentsville's David Aleman hail from the same county but had to travel more than eight hours to race against each other.

But both said it was worth it.

Lewis helped his Potomac team grab a fourth-place finish (214 points) at today's Great American Cross Country Festival, billed as the greatest collection of high school talent ever assembled in any sport. The event featured eight prep races, with 238 schools from 21 states.

Lewis finished in eighth place with a time of 15:58.24, just a fraction of a second ahead of Aleman--last year's Virginia A state champion--who ran a 15:58.60 in the boys invitational division. Brentsville finished 16th with 373 points.

"This is a motivational boost," Lewis said. "I feel more confident now. I feel I can be top three in the state" by the end of the season.

Hylton's Katie Golden was the highest place finisher from Prince William County in the girls race, finishing 37th out of 179 runners, with a time of 20:01.27. Hylton's girls team finished 12th with 279 points.

"It's kind of rough coming out here for our first big race of the season," said Aleman, whose team had to miss one meet because it couldn't get a bus, and another because it wasn't allowed to run on Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish holiday.

"I think we'd be here no matter what," Aleman said. "Even if we had to walk here. This is one of those meets you don't want to miss."

Aleman hadn't had that much luck in his previous three visits to Charlotte, running in the prestigious Foot Locker Southeast regional qualifier, held annually the Saturday after Thanksgiving. His freshman year, he fell at the beginning of the race and didn't finish well. He said his sophomore year wasn't much to talk about, and last year he had a medial collateral ligament injury.

But today's event and finish seemed to help erase some not-too-fond memories.

"It's just great for us to see all these schools that are nationally ranked," Aleman said. "We've been real geared up to come to this meet all season."

Boys Invitational

8, Jason Lewis, Potomac, 15:58.24; 9, David Aleman, Brentsville, 15:58.60; 22, Jamaal Saunders, Potomac, 16:19.12; 29, Eric Uribe, Potomac, 16:33.15; 40, Mark Hamilton, Brentsville, 16:45.04; 56, John Hinkle, Brentsville, 17:02.17.

Girls Invitational

37, Katie Golden, Hylton, 20:01.27; 46, Shaina Ambrose, Hylton, 20:19.91; 50, Richelle Plotz, Hylton, 20:24.34.