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Team VA and Team MD Split 2015 Potomac XC Cups

New stars emerge as Individual Champions led by 9th grader
Theresa Long in Seeded Girls

10th XC BORDER WAR Celebrates the Cross Country Battle along the Potomac (River) Ideal racing conditions coupled with sunny skies showcased the 10th running of The Battle of the Potomac XC Championship in all its splendor. Aerial drone cameras captured the rolling hills, the Christmas Tree Farm and the lufting smoke from the chicken barbecue cookers. Yes, this is cross country at its finest. Nicknamed the “XC Border War” after its first few years, the 10th anniversary event brought back a bit of symmetry to the event as Maryland Boys defended their Potomac XC Cup title and the Virginia Girls got back on winning ways after a two year run by Team Maryland’s girls.

It was a dominant win by the Maryland Boys who have only faced a true challenge in 2 of the 10 Border War Championships raced. The Virginia Girls got back to holding the Potomac XC Cup after a two year reign by Maryland’s Girls. The individual Seeded Champions followed suit as a local Montgomery County MD boy took top honors. Wooton HS’ Colin SyBing ended his fall “cross” season with a 13 second win over local Quince Orchard HS’ top runner Liam Walsh. The surprise winner of the day was in the Girls Seeded race. A homeschooled freshman pulled away from West Virginia’s 2-time 3A State Champion Abby Colbert to earn her first major win in cross country. Theresa Long is no stranger to the Smokey Glen Farm course as she won the Middle School race In a previous effort.
The 10th Battle of the Potomac XC Championship results tie back to the first year of the state vs state race when there was just one Potomac XC Cup to hold for bragging rights. In that year, Team Maryland edged Team Virginia based on the strength of the Maryland Boys. In fact in its 10 year history, the Maryland Boys have won 9 out of 10 times. For a while, it looked like the Virginia Girls would maintain the same level of dominance, yet in 2013 the Maryland Girls brought more speed and followed up that upset win in 2013 with a 2nd straight team victory in 2014. It was fitting in our 10th year the the Team Virginia Girls won over a Maryland Girls team that officially was one finisher short from scoring. Even if Maryland had a 10th runner (scoring is 10 deep) who had finished 1st, the Virginia Girls’ depth was too much to overcome.
Some elements of the XC Border War #10 remained the same. The drumline kept the runners’ beat, the video crew shot cool new footage including a drone pilot providing a new view of Smokey Glen Farm, and the staff cooking that famous Smokey Glen Farm smoked chicken. When all 6 races had been completed, the smoked chicken beckoned the runners and the aerial drone with camera had landed.
The Battle of the Potomac XC #10 celebrated 10 years of MD dominating the Boys competition in all but 2 of the 10 yeas and VA Girls winning all but 2 of the 10 years. It was fitting that our primary Youth Fitness Honoree, Kaitlyn Davis, was a past 2-time champion, a scholar athlete at NC State University and now an elementary school teacher. Our male honoree was Lee Degfae who went on to All-American Honors at Virginia Tech in track and cross country. Lee was a past winner for Team VA in one of two years that the Virginia Boys won the Potomac XC Cup. Each of these past champions has gone on to post-college careers and are role models for all high school athletes on how to balance a college sports career and an academic career pursuit. Lee lives in Atlanta where he works for Wells Fargo Bank. Kaitlyn resides in the Raleigh NC Tri-Cities area where she is an elementary grade level teacher.
American Running produces and hosts the event as part of its commitment to improving the physical activity and fitness levels of all America’s youth. The middle school race will expand and be a link to future high school cross country runners. That tie was evidenced by the win in the Girls Seeded race, a former middle school competitor and past winner. Additional photos and updates will be posted on the Battle of the Potomac XC site – Results are posted on ( and on the host site,
The Battle of the Potomac XC Championships is produced by the Bethesda, Maryland-based American Running Association (ARA). This championship meet, which involves four neighboring states, serves as a venue to encourage more kids to become interested in the sport of cross country running and to become runners themselves. All proceeds from the meet help produce the event and support ARA’s free Youth National Run A Mile Days Fund and training programs. ARA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1968 to promote healthy living and active lifestyles among all Americans. It is dedicated to supporting runners through education and specialized programs, as well as encouraging all individuals from children to adults to run and be fit. For more information about the association or to learn more about the walk-run programs, visit

Virginia has its Day at National HIGH SCHOOL X-COUNTRY Finals – NXN in Oregon & Footlocker in San Diego

Fayetteville-Manlius Girls dominant again at NXN; Rainsberger wins Girls Title; Clinger the Boys Loudon County Starts Kelati and Hunter win National Crowns at Footlocker

NXN 2015 in Oregon: Ideal racing conditions are never the phrase uttered when it comes to cross country nationals at Nike’s Premier team-focused National Cross Country Championship (NXN). It is routinely overcast with drizzle with a waterlogged course that brings out the toughest in XC racing. NXN moved to Glendoveer Golf course to many coaches and observers’ applause in 2014, after several years of waterlogged and mud-filled sections of the course at Portland Meadows Race Track (course is inside the outer thoroughbred horse track). Footlocker on the other hand is set in San Diego (except for a 2 year run in Orlando) and almost always is raced on a sunny day with temperatures in the 60s. The Balboa Park course is known for a hill you hit twice and a dust cloud that can get kicked up by the field of 40 runners in each race.
NXN 2015 saw slightly less water on the course from its debut at Glendoveer in 2014. Over 3 inches of rain fell the night before the 2014 NXN races, which added some slip-sliding drama to how runners would attack the relatively flat course. In 2015 Oregon had been dry for almost all of November then comes December and rain. Come race day it was a light rain or drizzle that kept the course moist.
The big news at NXN each year is can Fayetteville-Manlius (F-M) out of the Syracuse NY region win the Girls Team Title once again. It was really big news in 2013 when Wayzata out of Minnesota came in an upset the perennial winners who had won the previous 7 NXN titles. In 2014, Head Coach Bill Aris of his “STOTAN XC CLUB (club name for the high school team) not only won the Girls Title but his Boys Team matched the Girls team and secured the Boys NXN Title. He is now mentioned as the most dominant High School Cross Country coach of all-time. Since the advent of the Nike Cross Nationals in 2004, only his New York State rival from Saratoga Springs and the Wayzata Minnesota team have carried the NXN Star Trophy home from Oregon. The girls race was first and soon it was clear that F-M’s Girls were back to their aggressive ways and would not be stopped for a 9th title. They had the team scoring lead at the mile and stayed out in front for the entire race. Since first place was apparent, more interest focused on who earn the other 2 podium spots. The surprise this day was the strength of the California schools. One knock in the earlier years was that California schools were not ready for the muddy conditions of Oregon. That has changed. This year, the top California girls team from Great Oak (Temecula, CA) took 2nd and another California school grabbed 3rd. It became a NY – CA set of 4 when it was announced that Saratoga Springs was back in top form with a strong 4th place finish.
The Boys Team title was also focused on California. The Boys team from Great Oak had garnered big team wins all year and had dominated the California State Meet. The Great Oak boys did not disappoint. Their top 5 pack was fairly close and up in the top 50 early on. The surprise team that was racing hard was the American Fork team from Utah. Their #1 guy was right up front trying to win the Boys Individual Title (Clinger outsprinted the Midwest’s Ben Veatch to get the low #1 card for Great Oak). It became a Western States or Southwest Region day as Great Oak held on for their first NXN title with Clinger leading his American Fork team to the Runner-up spot.
Leaving NXN that day were several top runners who had the opportunity to qualify for the other National Cross Country Championship in San Diego, Footlocker. They were able to race and earn a NXN spot with or without their team on one weekend and then race the Footlocker Midwest Regional on a subsequent weekend. Many coaches and athletes grumble each year about this inequity nationwide.
FOOTLOCKER 2016 (follow up to previous FitNews story on Drew Hunter and Weini Kelati of Virginia).
Ben Veatch was a close 2nd at NXN the previous Saturday in the grey skies and light rain of Portland Oregon. San Diego was its usual sunny day in the 60s on the following Saturday morning, although rain had fallen a few days earlier that kept the dirt from flying in a cloud at the Morley Field Course at Balboa Park. Veatch was not the boy in the spotlight that day. It was Drew Hunter from Loudon Valley HS in Northern Virginia who had the bulls eye on his back. He had run a 14:20 5K on a course in Virginia earlier that was the fastest boys cross country time all year. He had set the Footlocker South Course record on a course that was slightly lengthened from the previous year. Could Drew be the first Virginia boy to win since 1981?
The girls race had 3 girls getting most of the pre-race hype. One was Drew Hunter’s “county neighbor” in Loudon County Virginia in Weini (Way-Nee) Kelati. This was going to be Kelati’s final cross-country race of her short high school career. Weini had just turned 19. She also had won all her races in the fall and had up’d her mileage to levels few high school girls ever approach – 80-85 miles per week.
Drama in both races upfront only materialized in the last 50m of the girls’ race as Weini Kelati grabbed an early lead and ran wire-to-wire to win her first Footlocker title and first by a Virginia girl since Northern Virginia’s Erin Keogh won back to back titles in the mid 80s. Drew Hunter matched Kelati’s aggressiveness and seized the lead at 900m and opened up a historic lead of 17 seconds by the 2-mile mark. In fact his mile and 2 mile splits were as fast as anyone had raced the Morley Field course. Only Drew’s pace would be his competitor this day as he ended up wining by 12 seconds with the 11th fastest all-time finish.
For only the 2nd time in Footlocker history did one state bring home two Footlocker Champions in the same year. It was just not Virginia but Loudon County Virginia in the fairly populous area of Northern VA that did it in 2015. Back in 2005, California had two Champions in AJ Acosta and Jordan Hasay. Both ended up with stellar careers at Oregon with Hasay running professionally on the Oregon Project Team coached by Alberto Salazar.
Final Openings are available through mid January. Fundraise for the YOUTH FUND, attend the AMAA Boston Sports Medicine Symposium and then run the fabled marathon!
Once again, AMAA and its parent organization the American Running Association (ARA) are fortunate and privileged to have a block of “Invitational Charity Entries” into the 2016 Boston Marathon®. The NATIONAL RUN A MILE DAYS Program is the main cause for the youth fitness efforts of ARA and AMAA. Since 2007, what started out with a handful of schools and community groups has grown to over 30,000 students in 25 states with AMAA physicians and ARA member PE teachers leading the way. The “NRAMD YOUTH FUND” brings together elementary and middle schools plus some community organizations that are committed along with ARA and AMAA to increasing the physical activity levels of all boys and girls through running. It’s not just running but focusing on the “mile” as the starting point to get as many kids as possible committed to more physical activity while at school and at home.
AMAA does its part by spreading the word on the effects that Childhood obesity and “overweight” conditions are leading to a generation of youth who may not outlive their parents. With a better nutrition plan, eating smaller portions and combining diet with an active walking and running program. That is where the “NATIONAL RUN A MILE DAYS YOUTH FUND” comes into play. The Invitational Entries that AMAA sells are mandated to be valued at $5000. The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and its partners want all charity partners to do well and put their energy and funds raised back into Communities from Greater Boston to around the country. AMAA and ARA are doing their part. In 2015, American Running added a “MILE DAYS TOUR” to both the East and West Coasts. Staff and our partner at YOUTH RUNNER Magazine visited schools, track meets and other “NATIONAL RUN A MILE DAYS” host sites to promote the efforts of running the mile and to hand out special tee shirts to staff and leaders at the Mile Days’ schools and host locations. Students at these schools also received “ARE YOU A MILER?” tees to let everyone else know that they ran the mile and can you run a mile too?
Information on the AMAA YOUTH FUND MARATHON TEAM can be found on the AMAA Sports Medicine website – - Click the Boston 2016 Info links and email ARA Staff – for details of joining out AMAA Youth Marathon Team and the AMAA Sports Medicine Symposium on Marathon weekend at the AMAA headquarters, the Colonnade Hotel.

Happy Holidays and wishing you a great New Year filled with outstanding runs!

–The American Running Staff

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