It was about midway through cross-country season last year that Stone Bridge's Kyle Kinnally and Coach Jen Oblas began to realize his potential as a distance runner.
Injuries slowed his progress during the spring track season, but now healthy, Kinnally is starting to make his mark against the best runners in the D.C. area.
On Saturday at a muddy Lake Fairfax Invitational in Reston, Kinnally finished a close seventh against elite area competition in the meet's seeded race.
Kinnally, a senior, crossed the finish line in 18 minutes 3 seconds on a modified course that was lengthened to 5,200 meters because of poor conditions caused by last weekend's torrential rains.
"He took a little time to recover" from a painful injury to the muscle connecting his hip and knee, Oblas said. "He started training midway through the summer, and now he's healthy and definitely looking for some strong performances this season."
Chantilly junior Brad Siragusa won in 17:24, ahead of Walter Johnson All-Met senior Andrew Jesien's 17:46. But in the end, Kinnally found himself right in the middle of a pack of the next eight finishers who crossed the line within 15 seconds of one another.
Potomac Falls had the best showing among local teams, finishing second in the boys' seeded race. The Panthers had 122 points, sparked by Max Werner's 10th-place finish. Herndon captured the title with 109 points. The Panthers' girls were eighth overall; Oakton cruised to the team title with 38 points.
Coupled with a 17th-place performance by senior Ryan Dafgek (18:38), the Bulldogs' boys took sixth as a team. On the girls' side, senior Megan Malacarne finished fifth in the unseeded varsity race.
Kinnally emerged by the end of last season to take second in the Dulles District, and he placed 13th in the Region II race to qualify for the state meet. Despite the injury that derailed his spring season, Kinnally has applied what he learned last year to his running this year.
"A runner can be a good runner, but it takes something to click in their brain where they pass the point of being tired and learn how to go all out in a race," Oblas said. "It's hard to do. It's a little scary; you might not feel like you're going to make it to the end."
Matthew Yim, a 14-year-old sophomore from Broad Run, defeated Ryan Hendershot, 7-6, to win the junior male fin title at the AAU Taekwondo junior national team trials Sept. 11 in Houston.
Yim, who trains at Tiger Martial Arts in Ashburn, earned his first national title at the USTU Taekwondo Junior Olympic national championships in July in Atlanta, becoming the first competitor from Virginia to win a gold medal in the black belt sparring division for 14- to 17-year-olds.
Yim qualified for the AAU junior national team trials by winning a bronze medal in the sparring division at the AAU Taekwondo national championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., soon after the Junior Olympic nationals. Yim next will compete at the European Championships in Bonn, Germany, in February. It will be Yim's first championship meet outside the United States.