The William Byrd girls’ cross country team ran in the Class 4 state meet on Friday at the Great Meadows horse farm in The Plains, VA. After five days of wondering whether they’d be included, the running was the easy part.
Byrd was invited to run in the meet after it was discovered there was a scoring error in the regional standings. The Terriers at first thought they missed qualifying by just one point, but when justice was served the Byrd girls were rightfully included in the state meet.
“After a long five days to find out if we would be able to run at The Plains the girls went to state preparing to end the season on a positive note,” said coach Eric Royal. “The weather was not co-operating, it rained throughout the week and the course was closed for practice and this was a concern of mine. Kayland(Bond)went as a freshman but everyone else had no idea what to expect. We held a chalk-talk with the course map pulled up on activeboard and discussed strategy.”
Byrd ended up finishing 12th among the 13 teams entered. Normally there would be 12, but when Byrd was added it was decided it would not be fair to eliminate another team who thought they had made it, namely Pulaski County, so 13 teams were in the field this year.
“As far as the race goes I was pleased with everyone’s performance,” said Royal. “You can always run faster or look back and say ‘if I just passed that runner.’ These girls came together at the right time and performed beyond their expectations and that is very satisfying. The experience of going and being part of a race that has only 111 runners in it out of thousands that started in the summer running cross country is something they will never forget.”
Blacksburg High School, a fellow member of Region D with Byrd, won the girls’ team championship. Loudoun Valley was second and Grafton High took third. The top individual was Natalie Morris of Loudoun Valley with a time of 18:16.
Byrd’s top runner was sophomore Erin Wienke, who finished 76th overall with a time of 22:06. Wienke has been Byrd’s top runner all season long.
Morgan Fletchall and Kayland Bond finished in 79th and 80th place in 22:14 and 22:20.
“Morgan has yet to reach her full potential,” said Royal. “I was so happy for Kayland, who ran as a freshman and senior. She’s been a great captain for the team.”
Brynn Tardy was next for Byrd in 87th place at 22:46, then came Evie Laherty in 89th at 22:49 to round out the scoring for the Terriers.
“Brynn had a great second half of the season,” said Royal. “Evie was coming on at the end of the race, closing in on Brynn, and these two compete in practice every day and need to take their running to the next level.”
Also competing for Byrd were Brooke Blankenship, who finished her high school career with a solid race to finish 93rd, and Julia Burek, who was 103rd.
Four of the top five runners return next year, as Byrd will say goodbye to seniors Bond, Blankenship and Burek.
“For my three seniors, thank you for the countless miles and hours you gave to the team and I wish you the best,” said Royal. “Our memories together will not be forgotten and I will be sharing them with future teams.”