Pack of runners at county meet

From left: Bishop O'Connell's Tess Brinkmann, Katherine Slovak and Lizzie Vinci, Wakefield's Brianna Breyault and O'Connell's Alissa Keegan compete early near the front of the girls county meet. (Photo by Dave Facinoli)

With an individual winner and two team champions, the Bishop O’Connell Knights had a strong showing among rivals Oct. 10 at the annual Arlington County cross country championships.

O’Connell senior Nick Slovak won the boys high-school race in 17:33 on the Bluemont Park course, helping his team to a dominating first-place victory with 19 points.

O’Connell’s Ryan Lindley was second (17:37), O’Connell’s Yakob Kelley third (17:40), teammate Joe Frankino fifth (17:48) and O’Connell’s Christopher Lucas eighth (18:11). Seven O’Connell runners finished in the top 10.

“Winning was awesome,” Slovak said. “It was a big team effort. We were all pushing each other. I got the lead coming down the last hill and I pushed into overdrive.”

Slovak was ninth in last year’s race.

The Washington-Liberty Generals were second with 48 points in the boys race, followed by the Wakefield Warriors (76) and Yorktown Patriots (115). For W-L, Daniel Brancati was fourth (17:47) and James Licato sixth (17:50). Wakefield’s Victor Guzman was seventh (18:07).

Many of Yorktown’s top girls and boys runners did not participate in the county meet, because the team is competing in another big meet Oct. 12. O’Connell, Wakefield and W-L runners also are participating in the same Oct. 12 meet. So not all runners ran at full speed or they ran in team packs at the county meet, probably effecting the results to some degree.  

In the girls county meet, W-L junior Ally Obenberger won in 19:51, ahead of O’Connell runners Katherine Slovak (second, 20:07), Tess Brinkmann (third, 20:09) and Lizzie Vinci (fourth, 20:19).

The O’Connell girls won with 26 points with W-L second with 34. Wakefield was third (67) and Yorktown fourth (120).

The victory was Obenberger’s first in any cross country race. She finished 48th in last year’s county meet in 25:42.

“It was really fun breaking that ribbon at the end,” Obenberger said. “I didn’t expect to win. I got the lead, kept going and didn’t look back. My teammates really helped push me and we worked together.”

Anna Harpel was fifth for W-L (20:31) with teammates Emily Cunningham eighth (21:23) and Rachel Mulvaney ninth (21:38).

Wakefield’s Brianna Breyult was sixth (20:39).

Also for the O’Connell girls, Alissa Keegan was seventh (20:50) and Olivia Chiapetta 10th (21:44).

“These two races will give our teams great optimism and confidence heading into our conference and state meets,” O’Connell coach Cindy Walls said. “It’s pretty awesome to win both [county] races today. We are getting better as the season goes on. Our runners today listened, followed and stuck to our plan.”

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