Madison and Langley runners

Madison High School’s Robbie Jenkins leads Langley’s Boden Gentile as the runners approach the two-mile mark of the Monroe Parker Invitational on Sept. 11. (Photo by Dave Facinoli)

For such an early-season cross country race, Robbie Jenkins and Lila Waters ran faster than expected in finishing second at the annual Monroe Parker Invitational.

Jenkins, a Madison High School senior, was runner-up in the boys varsity meet, as was Langley High junior Waters in the girls varsity event, both held the morning of Sept. 11 on the 2.9-mile Burke Lake Park course. Their times were 15:22 and 18:31, respectively, well off the first-place finishes of 15:09 by Ryan Watson of Justice and Gillian Bushee’s 17:37 from Herndon.

The meet is the long-standing traditional season opener for most teams during the fall campaign.

Jenkins said a best-case scenario would be running a 15:20, but he wasn’t necessarily expecting to finish that fast, even though he trained hard over the summer in preparation for the start of the fall season. He was extra motivated to improve after coming close, but not qualifying for the 3,200-meter race at the Class 6 state meet during the spring’s outdoor track and field season.

“I’m in the best shape of my life right now, but I am not going to peak too soon for this season,” Jenkins said. “I laced the shoes up and ran every day over the summer. As soon as this race started, I knew it was going to be OK and a good one.”

Jenkins helped the Madison boys finish fourth at Monroe Parker. Jack Sprague was 13th (16:16) for Madison and Aidan DiConti 15th (16:19).

The Langley boys were fifth, led by Boden Gentile in third (15:37) and Roan Toole’s 18th (16:23).

In the girls varsity race, Waters was guessing her best time would be around 18:45 “or something.” She ran much faster.

Waters said she was surprised she didn’t feel “terrible” for the race, after training hard a bit in recent days.

“I was surprised my legs weren’t fried today, and this race wasn’t the death of me,” she said. “I kind of wanted to run for myself today and finish in the top three.”

Waters helped the Langley girls team finish third, as junior teammate Elena Pesavento finished 17th (19:57).

Madison High senior Mary Byrne was seventh in the girls race in 19:17 and her teammate, senior Erin Baranowsky, was 22nd (20:09).

Some other top local runners participated in varsity races at different meets Sept. 11, like McLean High senior Xavier Jemison winning the boys varsity race in 16:01 at the Oatlands Invitational in Leesburg. Marshall’s Sean Sanders was 20th in 17:03.

In the girls race at Oatlands, McLean junior Thais Rolly was third (18:07). Her teammates Leah Durkee and Elise Walker were 26th and 32nd, respectively. Marshall’s Haley Spoden was 31st.

At the Knights Crossing meet in Salem, Va., the Oakton High boys placed third in the top Red race, led by Elham Huq in sixth. For the fifth-place Oakton girls, Sitota Mesfin was 15th.

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