After winning the Gunston District Championship last year, the boys cross country team qualified for the region 6C Championship at Burke Lake’s 2.98 mile course.
Here, the top runner, Mikyas Sahlu, placed 13th in the region with a time of 16:08.
Overall, the Atoms placed eighth in the region out of 13 teams.
Following the successful season last year with the addition of a group of strong freshman, Atoms cross country looks to go further this year.
“My goal is for the team to go to states this year and defeat vulnerable teams like Justice and Lake Braddock who have lost some great seniors,” sophomore varsity cross country runner Bennett Stenberg said.
Some of those seniors who have since graduated include Justice High School’s Natnael Asmelash, who ran a 15:58 and Lake Braddock’s Andrew Delvecchio, who ran a 16:03.
Both of these times were achieved at the Atoms’ regional meet last year. They placed third and seventh respectively.
In the Atoms’ region, 6C, the top three teams out of 13 qualify for the state meet.
It is much less of a question if the Atoms will get out of the district as only one team in the district of five will be eliminated. This year it was (and will likely be this year) Mount Vernon who last year did not even have a full squad of ten runners in the district meet.
The Atoms is are looking to shoot for third in the region, which would get them to states. Woodson and West Springfield are stacked and may be out of the question. But, the Atoms do not need to beat either of them.
Last year, Woodson and West Springfield put up an astounding performance and placed second with 69 points and third with 70 points respectively.
The only team who topped both of them last year was West Springfield, who due to graduation will likely not perform as well.
“My goal time is to achieve a 17:50 and I am preparing to help the team place top three in the region in order to get to states by working hard with the team,” Stenberg said. “Focusing on daily practices and workouts pay off big time in races.”
However, the next meet, boys cross country’s first meet, is the exact same course as that of the district and regional meet and will provide necessary experience to be successful in the district and regional meets.
The Atoms’ first meet of the season will be the Monroe Parker at Burke Lake on Sept. 8 including just about every team from the region.
An invitational at Hood College High School in Frederick, Maryland will follow a week after on Sept. 15.
Then, the last meet leading up to the biggest meet, Carleisle in Pennsylvania, will be the 5×2500 meter RVA relays in Mechanicsville, Virginia.