When Hayfield senior Melissa Dewey saw her championship-winning time of 17 minutes 10 seconds at the Monroe Parker Invitational in September, the two-time All-Met realized it could be the beginning of a special season.
Two months later, Dewey hasn't slowed down. She has dominated every race she has run in, including the Virginia AAA Northern Region championship, which she captured on Nov. 4 at Burke Lake Park.
"I worked really hard over the summer," Dewey said. "When I ran 17:10 at Monroe Parker, I was shocked. After that I was pretty confident."
Dewey is among the favorites in Saturday's Virginia AAA girls' championship meet at Great Meadow in The Plains beginning at 10:30 a.m. The boys' meet follows on the challenging 5-kilometer course at 11:15.
Propelled by the win at Monroe Parker, Dewey has yet to trail in a race this year. On a miserable afternoon at the Northern Region meet at the muddy Burke Lake course, Dewey won in 17:07, more than a minute better than the second-place runner, Kayley Byrne of Oakton.
Two weeks ago, Dewey became the third-fastest runner in Burke Lake history, registering a time of 16:42 to win the Patriot District. Dewey's time was the fastest since 1985, when Langley's Erin Keogh ran a 16:09 and Annandale's Aimee Harms clocked a 16:30.
Both of those runners, as well as most of the members of the all-time Burke Lake list, were Foot Locker national finalists -- an award Dewey hopes to claim at season's end. The Foot Locker South Regional meet is Nov. 27 in Charlotte, and Dewey could be a contender.
The top eight runners at each of the four regional meets qualify for the Foot Locker National meet in San Diego on Dec. 11.
"States are big, but I'm really looking forward to Foot Locker," Dewey said. "I want to see how I can do."
Another national contender is the Oakton girls' team, which continued its stellar season with a dominating victory at the Northern Region meet and is favored to win the state crown.
Byrne was second, Danielle Light was third, while Meredith Tighe was eighth and Allegra Smith was ninth for Oakton. The Cougars had 37 points, well ahead of Lake Braddock's 68.
Oakton is ranked first in the Southeast Region in the Nike Team national rankings; Lake Braddock is ninth. The top four teams in each of eight regions qualify for the Nike Team national meet, which is held Dec. 4 in Portland, Ore.
Northern Region teams will face a stiff test in the boys' state championship race. Chantilly junior Brad Siragusa, the region champion, and Lee senior Dawit Legesse have both had strong seasons and will go up against state standouts Derrick Robbins (Woodside) and Michael Chapa (J.R. Tucker).
Chapa will lead a Tucker team that is ranked second in the Southeast Region in the Nike rankings. Jefferson, which is ranked fifth nationally and won the Northern Region title last week, will look to knock off Tucker for a shot at the nationals.