O'Connell girls cross country team

The Bishop O'Connell girls cross country team gathers with the state championship trophy. (From O'Connell)

They're baaaaaaaaaack.

After not winning the state championship the past two seasons, the Bishop O'Connell Knights have returned to that throne this fall.

The girls high-school cross country team won the 2019 Division I state private- -school crown Nov. 7 in Mechanicsville by dominating the field with 46 points, comfortably ahead of runner-up St. Catherine's with 92. The Knights had three runners place in the top seven and five in the first 23.

"They really ran hard and great," said O'Connell coach Cindy Walls, who has led the team to eight state titles during her tenure as coach, and a second last fall. Absolutely that was their best race of the season."

Katherine Slovak in third was O'Connell's top finish. The sophomore ran the Pole Green Park course in 19:37. O'Connell senior Lizzie Vinci was sixth (19:41) and junior Tess Brinkman placed seventh (19:44). Also, senior Alissa Keegan was 11th (20:34), junior Olivia Chiapetta 23rd (21:24), sophomore Alessia Natalucci 27th (21:31) and junior Joanie Roque 41st (22:13).

"To win with 46 points is amazing," Walls said. "It was a great ending to the season."

The coach explained that her team was extra motivated to win the state after finishing a disappointing second in the recent Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships, missing first by a couple of points.

"They were really disappointed they didn't get that title," Walls said. "They had a week off after that and became determined to win the state."

In addition to winning the state title, the O'Connell girls also won this fall's Arlington County championship.

In the Division I boys state meet Nov. 7, O'Connell sophomore Yakob Kelley won the state championship in 16:17, helping the team finish third with 91 points. Collegiate won with 44 and St. Christopher's was second with 67.

Kelley started strong and led the entire race. 

Ryan Lindley was ninth for O'Connell (16:55), Nick Slovak was 11th (17:05), Joseph Frankino 24th (17:25), Thomas Sullivan 51st (18:04), Charles Palmer 54th (18:08) and Christopher Lucas 59th (18:16). 

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