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650 runners to compete at SJ Saturday

Posted 2017-10-05

    The Stonewall Jackson Cross Country Invitational, a highlight of the Virginia high school running season, will be held Saturday at the course north of New Market.

    The event, now in its 20th year, will include some 650 runners from 24 teams.

    Runners from Shenandoah County’s three high schools will be among those competing.

    County athletes have won 21 state titles in boys and girls competition.  Stonewall Jackson has won eight (five boys, three girls), Central seven (five boys, two girls), and Strasburg, six (three boys, three girls).

    Some local runners who went to state a year ago will be in the field on Saturday.

     Stonewall Jackson’s Lu Lu Funkhouser, who finished fourth last year at state, will be among them. Other 2016 state contenders who will compete are J.J. Dellinger, Carley Bennett, Susannah Garber and Melissa Oczkowski.  Newcomer Eli Dellinger also will run.

    Central girls Hannah and Grace Dellinger and Olivia Wightman, all state competitors a year ago, will run. Joining them will be freshmen Aliyah Kibler, Jaclyn Cardoso and Ashley Dodd.

    Strasburg’s Rachel Palmer is another state qualifier from last year. Mary Carter and Abby Davis also will represent the Rams.

    Central’s boys team is loaded with talented runners.  Leading the Falcons are last year’s state medalist Gus Wightman and Sawyer Lucy-Speidel, along with state qualifiers Mason Lucy-Speidel, Chase Rimel, Jacob Kimble, Colin Bradley-Connolly and Johnathan Cardoso.

    Stonewall Jackson has state qualifier Tristan Williams with Hayden Kennedy, Andrew Leon and Zach Wine all having solid seasons.

    Tyler Zimbro and Anthony Cadle will run for Strasburg.

    Stonewall Jackson cross-country coach Mary Clanahan and her husband, Kelly, will coordinate the event.

    Clanahan said the event, a brainchild of former coaches John Wymer and Joseph Huddle, attracts runners from a wide area.

     “We have been fortunate to have runners come from all over the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as from the Queen city, Charlotte, NC and the DC Metro area.”

    According to Clanahan, “the course has been ranked as one of the most challenging courses in the country.”

    The course has hosted the CAA championships as well as the JMU Dukes yearly Invitational in early September that brought in teams such as Georgetown, Duke, George Mason and others.

    Among high school runners, Hannah Rose of Wilson Memorial set a course record for girls in 2011 at 19:37, and Trevor Whitside of Sherando set the course record for boys n 2015 at 16:55.56.