Jefferson's boys' cross-country team had no all-state finishers yesterday at the Virginia AAA championships. But as they have shown all season, the Colonials have a better team of runners than anyone else in the state.
Jefferson's top five runners -- junior Hersh Singh, sophomore Paul Norland, senior Kyle Smith, freshman Brian Landry and junior Kyle Grimsley -- finished within 15 seconds of each other on the five-kilometer course at Great Meadow in The Plains.
And while none of them finished in the top 15, the Colonials, considered an underdog before the meet, combined for 76 points to win the championship for the second time in three years. West Potomac came in a surprising second (119), ahead of favorite J.R. Tucker (127).
"I think it led to our success, the way we trained as a team," said Smith, who took 23rd overall. "Getting five guys up there is as important as having one guy who can be at the very front."
In the girls' AAA race, Lake Braddock won its first state title since 2000 and its state-record-tying eighth overall. Led by a sixth-place finish from senior Kelsey Snowden and a 15th-place finish by sophomore Michelle Presley, the Bruins finished with 82 points.
In the Northern Region meet a week ago, the Bruins had been a clear second to Oakton, one of the nation's most highly regarded teams. But Oakton took fourth yesterday (134), behind James River (97) and Maggie Walker (130).
"This one is for the seniors," Coach Mike Mangan said of Snowden, Becca Hoogland (28th) and Kelly Sherrard (39th). "They've provided the leadership that got this team here. With our tradition at Braddock, these girls saw those teams and those names and wanted to see their names up there, too."
On a cold, blustery day on a soggy course at Great Meadow, Hayfield senior Melissa Dewey dominated the AAA girls' field, winning the individual title in 18 minutes 10 seconds. She finished 71 seconds ahead of Aurora Scott of Western Branch and faster than 73 of the 143 boys who raced in AAA.
Despite a spectacular regular season, Dewey, a two-time All-Met, said she was nervous about facing the rest of the state. Scott stayed with her for only a mile before Dewey pulled away and ran the rest of the race alone.
"I had gotten myself worked up about this race," Dewey said. "Before the race, I just said to myself to go out, run your race and have fun. The jitters always go away."
Brentsville's boys dominated the AA race. Senior Pat Eggleston won the individual title in 17:02, junior Nick Gehlsen was fourth, and the Tigers' first five made the top 19 to win with 33 points. Defending champ Fort Defiance had 73, and Potomac Falls took third with 129.
Behind a fifth-place finish from sophomore Becky Stewart, Brentsville's girls were second in AA with 70 points, behind Western Albemarle's 40. Northside's Catherine White won the race in 19:23; Broad Run junior Stephanie Garcia was the best local finisher in fourth.
Among AAA boys, Chantilly's Brad Siragusa finished an area-best fifth place, 36 seconds behind Tucker's Michael Chapa, who won in 15:54, the fastest time of the day. But Chapa's win wasn't enough to win the team title for Tucker, which is ranked second in the Nike regional rankings.
Runner-up West Potomac had barely qualified for the state meet, scoring one more point than Herndon to come in fourth at the Northern Region meet. The Wolverines' first finisher yesterday was senior Nick Jachowski in 19th place.
"Every single person on the team counts, but all year long we've had one person out for this, one person out for that," Coach Don Beeby said. "I told them that if it all comes together in the end, they could wreak some real havoc."