First-time champs: Albemarle girls win Albemarle Invitational

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Each year, the Albemarle Invitational has a loaded field of cross country teams from throughout the state, so it’s completely understandable why in all the event’s years, even very good Albemarle girls squads haven’t won it.


That’s not an issue anymore.


The Albemarle girls put together an incredible pack performance to take first place in the Albemarle Invitational Saturday. Ryann Helmers came in alone, streaking out to a second place individual performance with an 18:25.80 at Panorama Farms’ course behind champion Jodi Tolarchyk of Hickory. But behind her, four of Helmers’ teammates clicked in behind her in a tightly knit group. Madelyn Zarzyski, Emma Weaver, Beth Shifflett and Natalie Li finished in 27th, 28th, 29th and 32nd respectively, crossing the line within 11 seconds of each other to outscore runner-up Oakton 117-140 and snag the meet title. With two freshman in that top five in Zarzyski and Shifflett, the meet served as something of a coming out party for the Patriots.


Meanwhile, Western Albemarle’s girls squad took fourth overall, with Averi Witt’s individual fifth-place finish (19:10.30) leading the way. Alyssa Santoro-Adajian took 10th, Jenna Hill was 23rd, Emily Winder was 56th, Claudia Giortz-Jorgensen took 58th and senior Grace Rainey checked in at 65th for the Warriors. Zoe Clay was still missing from the Warriors’ lineup likely due to an earlier season injury.


Monticello placed 13th as a team with Kate Walz setting the pace in 48th individually. Sarah Seay’s 53rd-place finish led Louisa to 16th as a team while St. Anne’s-Belfield was 20th and Covenant took 21st. William Monroe rounded out the local contingent in 31st.


On the boys side, Western Albemarle was the top local finisher in fourth, coming in behind champion Mount Tabor, runner-up Oakton and third place Glen Allen.


Individually, Western freshmen Stuart Terrill and Joe Hawkes led the Warriors with a back-to-back finish at 17th and 18th overall while Cameron Ponder of Mount Tabor won the event. Max Miller placed 28th for the Warriors, finishing just ahead of Sean McGoveron of Albemarle. James Carrington led Woodberry with a 33rd place finish and Julian Yescas took 28th for Fork Union. Raleigh Findley was Louisa’s top finisher in 42nd, Aaron Vogeley led Monticello with a 43rd place clocking and Isaac Vik paced Charlottesville in 44th.


Albemarle took ninth place as a team, Woodberry finished 12th and Monticello and Louisa rounded out the top 20 in 19th and 20th. William Monroe took 24th while Fork Union took 25th, Charlottesville was in 26th and STAB and Covenant went back-to-back at 28th and 29th.