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Galax finishes fifth in Group A

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MANASSAS –– Galax’s boys’ cross country team finished among the top five in the state for the third consecutive year, placing fifth in the Group A championships Saturday at the Great Meadows course.

Led by a fifth-place finish by Manuel Echeagaray, the Maroon Tide finished with 174 team points, just three points behind Northumberland for the fourth spot. It was Galax’s eighth top-five effort in the school’s 16 trips to the state meet.

Clarke County placed all five scoring runners among the top 15, including the winner and runner-up, to easily take the team championship with 34 points. Radford (88) was second, and Altavista (127) third.

Behind Galax in the top 10 were George Mason (183), Floyd County (194), Mathews (203), Madison County (232) and Washington & Lee (238).

Echeagaray, a senior, finished by himself in fifth place, eight seconds behind Jared Miller of Radford and 10 seconds in front of Altavista’s Andrew Rigler. It was Echeagaray’s third straight year earning all-Group A honors, improving on last year’s sixth-place showing.

“All our runners had another tremendous day racing,” said Galax coach Tony Quesenberry. “All the seniors ran their career best times on the state course and the freshman really picked up the pace today to help push the team to the top-five finish.”

Trent McMillon placed 23rd for Galax in 17:44, Ryan Barker finished 43rd in 18:18 and Josh Fridley was 51st in 18:27. Behind those seniors were a trio of freshmen, Kevin Loftin (52nd, 18:32), Travis Cockerham (61st, 18:47) and Tyler Garman (67th, 18:56).

“Coach [Mary Jane] Ballard and I couldn’t ask for a better group of seniors to have led us this year,” Quesenberry said. “The seniors’ goal from day one was a district championship, top two in the region and another top-five state team finish, and the kids achieved each of the goals though their hard work and leadership to the younger runners.

“All of our young kids are excited about the prospects for next year. The freshman all received very valuable experience at the state level which should help them as the prepare for the future races.”

Ben Veilleux of Clarke County was the individual champion with a time of 15:37, 31 seconds ahead of teammate Chris York. Charles Mogen of Radford was third in 16:28.

The lone Galax runner in the girls’ field, sophomore Marleigh Durham posted a 24th-place finish in 21:11, cutting her finishing place nearly in half from a 45th-place effort a year ago, and trimming 40 seconds off her freshman time at the state meet.

Megan Marisco of Glenvar was the girls’ individual champion with a time of 17:38, whipping the field by 80 seconds. George Mason was the team champion with 51 points, holding off Clarke County by three points. Radford was third with 98 points, followed in the top five by Altavista (110) and Middlesex (134).

In the Group AA races, also held Saturday at the Great Plains course, Carroll County’s Matt Coble made his fourth straight appearance in the boys’ race, finishing his career with a 52nd-place finish in a field of 127 runners, posting a time of 17:07. Led by a course record time by individual champion Andrew Colley, Jamestown took the boys’ team title by 43 points over Blacksburg.

The girls’ race was a virtual tie, with Blacksburg and Hidden Valley each finishing with 47 points among their top five runners. Blacksburg’s sixth runner made the difference as the Indians took the team championship.