Lake Braddock All-Met cross-country runner Erin Swain did something that she has not done all fall. She took the lead at the half-mile mark.
Swain, who normally runs with the front-runner in the first mile, took the early lead on the 3.1-mile course at Great Meadow in The Plains, and never relinquished it, capturing the girls "A" race in 18 minutes 26.90 seconds at the Octoberfest Invitational yesterday.
Swain, a senior, and her freshman sister, Kelly, who placed fifth in 19:02.50, helped the Burke school win the team title with 92 points. Louisa County, behind the senior duo of Charissa George (ninth, 19:13.80) and Jill Wilson (10th, 19:19.90), finished second with 102 points.
In the boys event, junior Austin Smith of Midlothian High in Richmond won the individual "A" title with a time of 16:03.10. Louisa freshman Daniel Kane, who turned in his best performance of the season, was the top area finisher, placing third in 16:06.70.
Western Albermarle of Charlottesville won the boys team title, placing four runners in the top 10 and finishing with 58 points. Senior Todd Lucia was the top finisher for Western Albermarle, crossing the line second at 16:05.70.
The meet featured more than 60 schools. They ran on the same course on which the Virginia AAA cross-country championships will be held Nov. 13.
"I think it was the first time in a long time that I have not followed someone through the first mile," said Swain, who won her fifth invitational this season. "Today, I just felt really good . . . but nobody was up there and I ended up going the same time for the first mile."
Swain was third after the first 150 yards, but broke out front at the half-mile mark. She ran away from the field, winning by 19 seconds over Mount Vernon senior Christina Burleson, who finished second at 18:45.80.
"[The win] feels great but I still have three more [districts, regionals and states] races," Swain said. "The next three races are the ones that count and I'm going to go into them positively this year."