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The Brentsville District boys and girls cross country teams both captured the Evergreen District title last Tuesday in Nokesville on the strength of pack running.
Brentsville runners take boys, girls district titles
© Gainesville TimesNo matter how bad the world of sports gets at Brentsville District High School, the Tiger faithful can always count on a strong showing by at least one of the varsity cross country teams during the post-season.
The boys and girls teams both captured the Evergreen District title last Tuesday in Nokesville on the strength of pack running.
Brentsville's boys won overwhelmingly and convincingly.
Kyle King (16:36), Corey Tooke (16:46), Ben Lemonds (16:52) and Richard Knab (17:11) captured the first four spots respectively in the field of 34 runners while the team's fifth runner, Robert Theimer (17:33), came in seventh place overall, according to statistics provided by Milestat.com.
Only 57 seconds separated King from Theimer at a time when one of the Tigers' usual stars, Michael Blair (19:08), finished an uncharacteristic 24th due to a bummed knee and a bout with pneumonia.
Daniel Broemmel (18:21) rounded out Brentsville's line-up by checking in 19th overall and sixth on the team.
Collectively, the boys topped second-place Fauquier 17 to 53. Kettle Run (80 points) came in third, Liberty (95 points) finished fourth and Warren County (99 points) rounded out the competition.
"Our goal all along was to go one through five," said Brentsville head coach Darrell Earman.
With Blair, who joins King and Tooke as a team captain, not able to perform as well as normal, Earman said the sophomore Theimer stepped up in a big way for the Tigers.
"He decided he wanted to join the big boy club, if you will," said Earman.
Theimer ran junior varsity races all year but began to come into his own during October as he earned a top-five finish at Oatlands and an outright victory at Disney World in Florida.
Tooke generally crosses the finish line first for Brentsville but this particular race belonged to King who did "everything right," according to the coach.
"And the good thing (is) those give guys are really, really good friends," said Earman. "Not one of them wants the other to beat him.... That's what makes us better. They don't have a set pecking order. If Kyle can beat Corey, he's going to."
Earman added, "All five of them think they should win which is a nice problem to have."
During the girls race, Warren County proved to be much more difficult company than any of the squads the boys' team faced.
Wildcat runners Kayla Gibbons (19:43), Rachel Oden (20:14) and Ariel Asher (20:16) came in first, second and third respectively.
Brentsville, however, placed all seven of its runners within the next nine slots.
That created separation between Warren County's top three and its next two runners as Fauquier and Kettle Run snuck their best athletes too to drop the Wildcats further down the standings.
Once the dust settled, Brentsville won 31 to 40. Fauquier (68 points) and Kettle Run (95) pulled up rear. Liberty only sent two runners to districts.
"This is probably the first team I've had where, knock on wood, there are no cliques," said Earman, a 28-year coaching veteran in his seventh year at Brentsville.
Nicole Giller (20:20) and Bailey Morrow (20:27) led the Brentsville pack during this race like they usually do and finished within the typical 5- to 10-second range of each other like normal for their events.
That earned them fourth and fifth on the day.
Most crucial for a team without an all-out dominant speedster like Gibbons is for Warren County is the strength of their depth chart.
Nichole Egan (20:48) and Madison Stanley (20:51) clocked in sixth and seventh overall while Carolina Desmedt (21:03) rounded out the Tigers' top five with a ninth-place showing.
Not far behind, Shannon Pascucci (21:22) and Naomi Gilbert (21:36) clinched the tenth and eleventh spots too, adding more space between Brentsville's top five and Warren County's fourth- and fifth-place runners.
A meet like this shows that "we can overcome our lack of a superstar and do it together," said Earman.
Competition among the team members themselves is particularly fierce even though Earman reported a minimum of infighting.
Twelve girls have legitimate shots of making the squad of seven prior to any particular match.
In fact, freshman Julia Desmedt, who missed out on district, ran well enough in practice that she's now earned the seventh spot for regions, according to Earman.
He compared her to Theimer as someone who is a "fighter" that is "really coming along" during the home stretch of the season.
Winning districts is a matter of tradition at Brentsville: since the school moved up from Group A to Group AA in 2004, the boys have won nine consecutive district titles.
That tally includes five in the Northwestern District from 2004 to 2008 and four in a row in the Evergreen District.
Meanwhile, the girls won their first district gold since 2009. Like the boys, they dominated year in and year out during their five years in the Northwest District.
Now comes the hard part.
The girls won Region II title in 2008 and 2009 but have not captured it since. For the boys, it's been since their last state championship year of 2007 that they brought home a victory at regions.
"Our goal is still to win," said Earman about the girls and boys.
He reckoned that Tuscarora, Western Albermarle and all of the Loudoun County schools are ones to watch heading into the Region II finale at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg on Nov. 1.
Saying that both of his teams have a "very realistic" shot at winning regions and advancing to states, the key for the girls is running smart while the boys need to stay as close to the front as possible.
"We know there are probably going to be five or six girls that are going to be out of our league," he said.
Yet, placing all seven runners in the top 20 should neutralize whatever effect that creates if Earman's math is correct.
If the girls finish around 20:00 to 20:10 as a team, "I think we're going to be successful," he said.