Runners race to first place finishes

Louisa County High School’s cross country team hosted their first home meet on Sept. 25, racing against Jefferson District rivals Fluvanna, Monticello and Albemarle high schools.

The Lions won both the boys’ and girls’ races and had runners grab the top individual spots. Cierra Caicedo led the field in the girls’ race with a time of 19 minutes, 59 seconds, while Branden Wood finished well ahead of the pack with a time of 16:45.

Bowen Varney finished second in the boys’ race, running the course in 18:13. Josiah Cannon (18:22) completed a Louisa sweep of the top three spots, edging out Monticello’s Hunter Ray by one-tenth of a second. Nicholas Emmert and Caiden Davenport rounded out the Lions’ team score, finishing in fifth and sixth place finishes with respective times of 18:27 and 18:36. Andrew Choffel (18:41) and Everett Robinson (19:15) scored top 10 finishes for the Lions, placing seventh and 10th, respectively

The Lions totaled 17 points to win the meet. Monticello finished second with 53, followed by Fluvanna with 75.

In the girls’ race, Alayna Campbell was the second Louisa runner to finish, placing third with a time of 21:53. Sydney Madison was right on her heels for a fourth place finish at 21:54, and Kennedy Harris rounded out the top five with a time of 21:57. Maeve Myers finished seventh at 22:48 to round out Louisa’s team score. The Lions totaled 20 points to win the race. 

The Lions took the momentum from their home win on the road on Sept. 28, traveling to Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield to run in the Virginia Track Coaches Association Invitational. 

Caicedo and Wood were again the first Lions to finish in their respective races, claiming top five finishes for the day. Caicedo placed fifth with a personal best 18:56, while Wood also set a personal record with his time of 15:45, placing third.

“Last year was Cierra’s first year running for us, and she’s dropped her times considerably,” said Lions’ head coach Jerry Cutright. “Looking at Branden’s times from two years ago, he’s improved by almost two minutes. We’re looking at them to be competitive at the state level.”

Personal records abounded throughout the race. Harris, Campbell, Madison, Myers and Alison Soriano each set personal records on the course, garnering respective times of 20:50, 21:18, 21:28, 22:11 and 23:54.

The Lions’ boys team also set a number of personal records on the course. Varney finished in 16:43, placing 15th. Davenport (17:27), Emmert (17:28), Cannon (17:30) and Choffel (17:51) also brought home personal best times.

Louisa’s boys’ team totaled 125 points for a fourth place finish, while the girls finished seventh with 185 points.

It wasn’t just the varsity runners that set personal records. Junior Varsity runners Alyssa Wood (24:39), Jayden Whalen (19:01) and Brandon Smith (19:10) also had season best times during Saturday’s race. The three of them also brought home top 10 finishes, with Wood placing seventh in the girls’ race and Whalen and Smith garnering respective seventh and ninth place finishes in the boys’ race.

“We’re making some great improvements,” Cutright said. “Having so many runners set personal records on Saturday was great. We still have a bit of work to do this month to get ready for the regional meet.”

The Lions’ next meet will be the Albemarle Invitational at Panorama Farms in Earlysville on Oct. 12. The Lions will compete against more than 30 teams including Jefferson District powerhouses Albemarle and Western Albemarle. Races begin at 11:30 a.m.

“They’re two of the best teams on the east coast,” Cutright said. “If we can run competitively with them, we’ll be able to make some noise at the state level.”