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Glenvar sweeps individual Class 2 cross country crowns

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Carly Wilkes was all by herself at the finish line Saturday in the VHSL Class 2 girls cross country championships at Green Hill Park.

However, the Glenvar senior had some company atop the podium.

That would be Glenvar classmate Daniel Zearfoss, whose victory less than an hour later gave the Highlanders a sweep of the Class 2 individual championships just a short jog from the Roanoke County school’s campus.

Zearfoss gave a shout as he crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 20.8 seconds for his first state cross country title.

No need for a translation to know what the exclamation signified.

“Four years of hard work,” Zearfoss said.

Zearfoss was locked in a duel for most of the race with 2019 champion George Austin and Radford’s Cyrus Hartig, whose brother, William, won the 2020 title.

The trio were still together as they were inside the final 1,000 meters until Zearfoss dropped the hammer.

Austin finished 12 seconds back in 16:32, while Hartig was third in 16:35.

“I was planning to break, but I just didn’t know quite where I was going to do it,” Zearfoss said.

The Class 2 girls race was over about the time Wilkes got to the starting line.

The Furman recruit built a massive early lead and coasted home in 17:47.4. Tazewell freshman Abigail Rhudy was second in 19:26 with Alleghany’s Nevaeh Wills third in 19:58.

“I was hoping to get a little bit better time, but I’m still trying to learn how to push myself to another level without somebody else to pull me along,” Wilkes said.

“I think I should have been a little more out of energy than I was, because I was still able to finish pretty hard.”

Alleghany fell just short in its bid for the girls team title as champion Clarke County posted 90 points to 101 for the Mountaineers. Floyd County, led by Nicole Howell (11th) and Zoe Belshan (12th) grabbed third place at 123.

Union dominated the Class 2 boys race with 47 points to Clarke County’s 103. Defending champion Alleghany took third, while Radford was fourth.

George Wythe’s girls found the 5K course to their liking once again, winning the Class 1 championship for the third year in a row.

Led by runner-up Morgan Dalton and third-place Camryn Hardin, the Maroons put four runners in the top 14 finishers and posted a team score of 39 points to finish well ahead of Galileo (113), West Point (122) and Auburn (125).

Kara Temple (fifth), Kaleigh Temple (15th) and Carrie-Sage Dalton (18th) helped bring home the gold.

“This one is a little more sweet,” Dalton said. “We had two freshmen really improve. We’re basically all sisters. It’s a little more special than the other times.”

Dalton won the 2018 Class 1 title as a freshman and repeated in April in the delayed 2020 season.

Saturday, she finished 13 seconds behind champion Hailey Smith of Lancaster.

“I’ve been really nervous this week,” Dalton said. “I think that kind of affected me. On the starting line, I was ready to go. It wasn’t a terrible race but … I’m a little disappointed but my team pulled through.”

Galileo Magnet School took the Class 1 boys team title ahead of Lebanon and George Wythe.

The boys race featured the day’s best finish as Mathews’ Cameron Stearns ran 16:40.8 to edge Grundy’s Kaleb Elswick by three-tenths of a second.

“I could hear his footsteps,” Stearns said. “That’s really what did it. I lost a race that close one time. It was nice to win it that way.”

The Class 3 meet headlines belonged to Abingdon’s Isaac Thiessen, who had the best time of the day — 15:32.3 — and joined runner-up Dylan Phillips to power the Falcons to a decisive margin over Maggie Walker and Charlottesville.

Christiansburg, led by the fourth-place showing of Lawson Mecom (16.18.88), finished fifth.

Thiessen won his championship 24 hours after his older brother, Karl, qualified for the NCAA men’s meet for Tennessee.

What’s the bigger deal in the Thiessen household?

“It depends who you ask,” he said.

Maggie Walker won the Class 3 girls title. The top Timesland individual finishers were fourth-place Jessica Palisca of Cave Spring and sixth-place Sophia Pineda of Hidden Valley.

“I came in where I was ranked,” Palisca said. “My goal was to leave it all out there regardless of place. I don’t regret anything that I did today.”

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