Jennifer Flack isn’t in Kansas anymore and her move east in August has, in many ways, turned her life topsy turvy. Instead of continuing with home schooling, she now rides a crowded bus to a busy public high school. When she looks out the window of her Alexandria home, a small strip of sidewalk greets her instead of 20 sprawling acres dotted with stables and horses.
But with all the significant changes swirling around Flack these days, her distance running talent is one thing that has proved remarkably steady and dependable. The Edison senior won her second major meet of the season on Saturday, capturing the Octoberfest Invitational in a personal-best 18 minutes 22 seconds.
“The way of life over here is more fast paced,” Flack said. “Running’s definitely been helping with the transition.”
Robinson junior All-Met Macey Schweikert was runner-up in 18:27.
Eighty schools from across Virginia, the District and Maryland were in attendance. Blacksburg won the girls’ team competition ahead of Battlefield and Robinson.
In the boys’ meet, individual champion Sean McGorty (15:10) led Chantilly to another strong performance as the Chargers easily defeated Blacksburg and Battlefield to win the team title.
Before Flack arrived in Virginia, even five-kilometer courses like the one at Great Meadow on Saturday were a bit unusual. Back home in Riley, Kan., most races were only four kilometers.
But Flack said she enjoys going the extra distance because longer races work to her advantage, and she executed to near perfection at Octoberfest. The 5-foot-2 Flack, who barely weighs 90 pounds, relaxed in about 10th place during the first mile and then picked off runners on the rolling hills before breezing to the win.
“Uphills are kind of my strength,” said Flack, who is running with a team for the first time in her high school career. “The race really starts halfway through, and the person who wins is the person who slows down the least.”
The boys’ race was over almost as quickly as it began. McGorty, a senior, instantly took the lead and only stretched it as the race went along, producing a time that was more than 10 seconds faster than what he ran on this course at last year’s state meet.
Nick Link of Blacksburg was runner-up in 16:00.
The only time on Saturday that McGorty, who had a record-breaking victory at Great American last week, looked worried was when he was waiting at the finish line to see how his teammates were going to do.
They ran well. The Chargers put three scorers in the top 10 and put an exclamation point on their ascent to the top-ranked boys’ team in Virginia.
“I’m running faster than I ever have,” McGorty said, “but having a great team around me and being able to enjoy wins and top finishes with them makes it even more enjoyable.”