After the 2006 Oatlands Invitational, the meet organizers from Loudon County High School created a DVD of the meet and mailed it out to 100 cross country programs across the country in hopes of drawing a more elite field in 2007. Answering the call was Saratoga Springs High School from Saratoga Springs, New York. The nationally renowned program from over 400 miles away made the trip to Leesburg, Virginia to get a taste of cross country in the Mid-Atlantic. Likewise, upwards of 70 teams from Northern Virginia and the DC Metro area had the privilege of racing against one of the finest teams in the nation.
Saratoga Springs first made their presence known early in the morning when they scored 16 points in the Girls' JV Underclass Race, taking 7 of the top 8 spots. It was later at the Girls' Varsity A Race when Saratoga really flexed their muscles. Hannah Davidson led the field through the first mile in roughly 5:15, a blazing pace even for an athlete of her elite caliber. Davidson was followed by 3 of her teammates before any local runner came through the mile. A pack of our local stars including Ariel Karabinus from Osbourne Park, Lia Divalentin from Chantilly, Morgane Gay from Whitman, and Hiruni Wijayaratne from Herndon were steps behind Saratoga's #4. Over the course of the 2nd mile, the local runners picked off the Saratoga girls one by one with Gay and DiValentin pulling into 2nd and 3rd up the final major hill. The top three would remain in that order over the final half mile with Davidson winning in 18:04, Gay taking 2nd in 18:14, and DiValentine 3rd in 18:26. Despite Northern Virginia's ability to collectively break up the Saratoga contingent, the nationally ranked New Yorkers dominated the race with 59 points over 2nd place University High School from West Virginia, who had 140 points.
The Saratoga Springs boys participated in the Varsity B race, which in itself is a varsity race that the coaches can opt to run in if they do not want to run against the most elite teams. As a team, the Saratoga boys were not as strong as the girls, but their top runner Demetri Goutos was able to win the race. He and Damascus High School's Wil Zahorodny (both 4:30 milers) came through the mile marker in a sizzling 4:40. Goutos broke Zahorodny on the 2nd mile and cruised to a finish in 16:24. Walter Johnson boys, led by Brian Graves and Chris Moen, won the race with 72 points.
The Boys' Varsity A Race was highlighted by several of the top runners in the Northern Region. Brian Landry of Thomas Jefferson pushed the pace early before Leoule Degfae of Thomas Edison took over the lead for a short time around the half way mark. All the while, Brad Kenimer of TC Williams High School sat in the pack waiting to make his move. At about the two mile mark, Kenimer took over the lead with Degfae and Landry holding close. Kenimer was able to make it up the giant hill at 2.5 miles and hold on for the victory in 16:00. Degfae out-kicked Landry by a slim margin, both finishing in about 16:02. Thomas Jefferson won the race as a team by a large margin with 108 points over 2nd place James Robinson with 177. Potomac Falls High School placed third.
Lastly, the host team Loudon County was able to celebrate more than just a successfully run meet. The Loudon County girls won the Varsity B race with 77 points over Damascus High School's 129. The story of the race up front was Amanda Lineberry of Lee Davis High School who ran with Gaithersburg High School's Abby Spitler for the first half of the race before breaking her around the midway mark. Lineberry cruised in for an easy victory in 19:27 ahead of Spitler in 19:52.
The meet was very revealing in how the athletes from all over the DC area stack up against one another and how they stack up against an elite program from New York. Several athletes made a case for themselves as All-Met athletes while the Thomas Jefferson boys reaffirmed themselves as a major contender in Virginia. Winners of each race received fancy plaques and tons of goodies from local running stores including framed photos of themselves crossing the finish line and athletic carrying bags. The Oatlands Invitational, with its smooth but challenging course and 3500 competitors, provided hours of high caliber cross country action enjoyed by hundreds of spectators. For those in attendance on this cool, sunny day in September, THIS was the place to be.
Article Originally Published on Milestat.com