Midlo XC rises above challenges at regionals; Girls emerge as champions

2021 Region 5B Cross Country Championships

Midlo’s Girls Cross Country team wins the VHSL Region 5B Cross Country Championships at Pole Green Park.

Typically, the VHSL Region 5B Cross Country Championship takes place mid-November, allowing runners to enjoy crisp fall weather and near-perfect conditions. However, because of COVID-19 precautions, the VHSL moved all 2020-21 fall sports from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021, upheaving the usual training cycle. On April 15, 2021, just a month and a half after most of the girls team became State Champions in indoor track, Midlo’s Cross Country team competed in the 5A Region B Cross Country Regional Championship at Pole Green Park. Every year, this competition challenges participants with unforgiving hills and the steepest competition in the Richmond area, and 2021 proved to be no exception. 

In order to advance to the VHSL Class 5 State Cross Country Championships, which will be held on April 23, 2021, at the Historic Oatlands Plantation in Loudoun County, Virginia, a runner must be a member of the top two teams or top three individuals not on one of the qualifying teams at the regional level. These standards are a drastic difference from years past, as, in a normal year, the top three teams and five individuals qualify for the state meet; in a region of sixteen teams, this amounts to a 12.5% qualifying rate for teams in 2021. Furthermore, as a result of strict COVID-19 distancing standards, both the girls and boys races went off in waves. The top three individuals on each team began one minute before the next four, with the finishing times being adjusted accordingly.

At 11:00 a.m., the starting gun sounded, and the Midlo Varsity Girls began their journey to a regional title. The team consisted of Caroline Bowe, Gabriella Garcia, Katherine Krievs, Nicole Quiram, Chloe Martin, Ally Marmo, and Megan Lamberson. Immediately following the gun, Bowe and Garcia took the lead, which they would hold for the entire race. By the beginning of the third mile, Bowe, a UVA XCTF commit, gapped the entire field, going on to win her first cross country regional title. Only five seconds behind, Garcia, the defending Region 5B Cross Country Champion, finished in second place, securing vital points for the team. Next, Krievs and Quiram crossed the line in sixth and tenth place, making the all-region team. Not far behind, Martin and Marmo finished in eighteenth and twenty-third place. Lamberson, a freshman, rounded out the team, completing the race in thirty-seventh place. Senior Caroline Bowe, the 2021 Region 5B Cross Country Individual Champion, said, “The race was really challenging, but it also felt so good to be wearing the Midlo jersey again! The race went out fast and the hills were tough, but coming across the finish line was a great feeling, especially after finding out that our team won.” She adds that, at the state meet, the team “hopes to win another title. It will be a challenge, but [she] believes that their hard training will pay off.”

Shortly after the girls’ race concluded, the boys race began. The team consisted of Brian Tavenner, Porter Clark, Jack Ereio, Cameron Reeve, Jack Laser, Owen Widrick and Michael Wunderlich. While the girls faced steep competition in their race, the boys’ competition was even steeper; Region 5B on the boys’ side is infamously difficult to qualify for states out of, so the Midlo boys fought especially hard to hold their ground. As the race progressed, Tavenner worked his way to the front and finished in fourteenth place, making the all-region team. Following Tavenner, Clark finished twenty-ninth in the region, earning respect from teammates and competitors alike. Ereio, Reeve and Laser spent the race working together, crossing the line together in thirty-ninth, fortieth, and forty-first place. In forty-seventh place, Widrick used his training to fend off competitors, while Wunderlich rounded out the team in fifty-sixth place. Captain Brian Tavenner, in discussing the unique situation that COVID-19 created for runners, said, “This year has been weird going from indoor track to cross country. I know that the guys put in a lot of effort and I hope that we can all show improvement in outdoor track.”

Following the conclusion of each race, the awards ceremony followed. In the team competition, the Midlo Varsity Girls defended their 2019 title and won the regional title by two points, narrowly edging out Deep Run. The Midlo Varsity Boys finished sixth in the team competition, which is very respectable given the history of the boys teams in Region 5B. On Friday, April 23, 2021, the Midlo Varsity Girls will compete in the VHSL Class 5A Cross Country State Championships, where they will fight for a state title.