It was a full week of firsts for the RCHS varsity cross country team. For their inaugural district competition Sept. 22, the Panthers traveled to the Mansfield Equestrian course in Clarke County to combat the Strasburg Rams and the Clarke Eagles. Boys earned second place and girls, third place. On Saturday (Sept. 25), the team journeyed to Oatlands for its first invitational meet of the season, and the team returned with a few personal best race times.
Of the Oatlands Invitational, Coach James Sharpe said, “It is one of the two best cross country events in Virginia. The meet had thousands of athletes from the Mid-Atlantic states, as well as others as far away as Colorado. It was run seamlessly and had a beautiful, challenging, and well-marked course.
“There were several categories of races, each starting on a wide field with over 100 athletes at the line at once and as many as 800 racing for position as the course narrowed to a 10-foot path. All those athletes jumping off the line at the sound of a shotgun – an incredible sight to be sure.”
While only three RCHS boys participated in the event, coach Sharpe said “they had a great experience, and represented Rapp cross country well by giving some great performances.”
One of the personal best performances of the day came from freshman, Danny Collins. “Man, it was hot and humid. There were tons of people in our race, and that made it more fun. We had to run through creeks and woods and take one huge hill – bigger than ours. Ugh.
“I started in the back of the pack, and tried to work my way up, but the course wasn’t wide enough. At two points, I couldn’t move through people. That slowed me down, but I know I passed at least 10 people. I did pretty well (21:43).
The other two runners also returned with celebrated times: Isaac Berry 19:28 and Josh Jones 22:12.
The Panthers were to host Strasburg at home on Wednesday (Sept. 29). Results will be reported next week.