His original race strategy didn’t go as planned, so Albert Velikonja improvised and the change paid off with a victory.
Sparked by a powerful kick, the Yorktown High School senior won the varsity A boys race at the Sept. 7 Monroe Parker Invitational at Burke Lake Park in 15:27, four seconds ahead of runner-up Colin McCauley of Herndon High.
Velikonja and McCauley ran together most of the race. McCauley had a slight lead at the top of the down-hill stretch a few hundred yards from the finish line. That’s when Velikonja made a move and won going away.
“I relied on may kick. The plan wasn’t working for me, so I had to figure it out on my own,” said Velikonja, who is the defending 6D North Region boys champion. “He was pretty much matching me the entire race, then I made the move at the end. I felt great today. The weather was great to run in.”
The meet was the season opener for many boys and girls teams.
Velikonja helped the Yorktown boys finish seventh. Yorktown senior Bowen Shuttleworth finished 12th (16:13), Lachlan Stevens 47th and Stephen McCartney 49th.
The Bishop O’Connell boys were 13th and led by fourth-place finisher Yakob Kelley. The sophomore ran 15:39. He is new to the school and program.
The Washington-Liberty boys were 19th.
In the varsity A girls race, Yorktown sophomore Anna Macon Corcoran had a strong race and placed third in 18:41, helping her team to 12th. She was near the lead the entire race and finished strong.
The O’Connell girls were sixth as junior Tess Brinkmann was 15th (19:34), senior Lizzie Vinci 16th (19:40) and sophomore Katherine Slovak 19th (19:49).
The W-L girls finished eighth, led by a 22nd by senior Anna Harpel (19:56), a 28th by sophomore Rachel Mulvaney (20:07) and a 31st by junior Ally Obenberger (20:12).