Journey to States

The Lafayette Cross Country team take on Regionals, where they battle it out on the course for the top three spots.


Amy Coleman

The boys and girls Lafayette Cross Country team pose together after Regionals. Zachary Barbarji holds up the boys' second place trophy.

The top seven girls line up on the start line moments before the race begins. They wait next to all of the other teams that are competing for the top three spots, which qualify for states.

Ending the regular Cross country season with a bang, the Running Rams took on the Milestat Invitational on October 19th. They raced the best of the best and all the runners left everything out on the course. Many of the runners took advantage of the relatively flat course and ran big personal records (PRs). All the runners who ran a PR were allowed to sign a red banner and write their new times. Senior Captain Allison Crookston came in 14th place, earning a medal for finishing in the top 15.

The top ten girls pose with Head Coach Craig Wortman, Assistant Coaches John Piggott, Drew Mearns, and Andrew O, and manager Lena Shelly. The group is posing after finding out the team made it to states.

The following Monday, the Running Rams attended the Grafton meet where they raced Grafton, Tabb, and Smithfield. Rescheduled from the previous week when it was rained out, the meet took place on October 21st. This did not allow the runners much recovery time, since they had run just two days before, but they didn’t let that stop them. The Grafton course was very flat, with the track built into a large portion of the race. Again, the runners took this opportunity to make many PRs. Allison Crookston finally broke 20, running 19:52, a goal she had been reaching for all season.

Scottie Coleman, Ainsley Lord, and Tiffany Morris stand in front of the MileStat banner after making personal records in the race. They got to sign the banner, along with all of the other runners who made PRs.

Once the regular season was over, the Running Rams began training in the post season for regionals. The coaches, including head coach Craig Wortman, had to figure out who would be running in the top seven spots at Regionals, and who would be the three alternates. The runners battled it out on the course all season for the top seven spots. In the end, the top seven girls were Senior Captains Allison Crookston, Scottie Coleman, and Kali Panoutsos along with Juniors Tiffany Morris and Isabel O’Connor, Sophomore Ainsley Lord and Freshman Delaney Cox. The alternates for the girls’ team were Milagro Riofrio and Samantha Burcham. For the boys’ team, the top seven spots went to Senior Captains Brenner Beard, Zachary Barbarji, Juniors Edwin Buret-Rojas, Dru Dun, and Ryan Koval, along with Sophomores Nick Spadaro and Chris Smith. The alternates were Carter Thrash, John Murphy, and Connor Wright.

Freshman Delaney Cox poses for a picture during the regionals race. Delaney finished 7th in the race, earning her an individual qualification at states.

On Wednesday November 6th, the Regionals team loaded onto the bus and headed to Bells Mill Park in Chesapeake. The race that the team prepared for all season had finally come. The course was all grass, which the runners loved because they were able to wear their spikes. It was pretty flat the first mile, but the second half had a lot more hills. This did not stop our Running Rams, however.

The boys team ran first and our runners gave it their all. Brenner Beard finished 5th, Zach Barbarji finished 7th, and Chris Smith finished 10th, earning them an automatic qualification to run at States. Ryan Koval came in 19th, Edwin Buret-Rojas came in 26th, followed by Nick Spadaro in 27th, and Dru Dun finished 31st. This earned the boys team a total score of 66. This score earned the Lafayette Boys Cross Country team second in the 3A region.

Pictured Top (Left to Right) is Allison Crookston, Scottie Coleman, Ainsley Lord, Isabel O’Connor, and Delaney Cox. Pictured Bottom (Left to Right) is Tiffany Morris and Kali Panoutsos. The girls hold up three fingers after getting third place in the region, securing their states qualification.

The girls team ran right after the boys finished. Allison Crookston brought home the gold, winning the whole race. “It was unbelievable to cross the finish line in first, finally all my hard work from the past 4 years paid off,” she said. “It felt so great to get that win after battling with my competitor throughout the race. The hills were definitely hard but they pushed me even more. I was also so close to breaking 20 again and I know I can do it at States. I’m so proud of my teammates because we worked so hard to get to States and we did it!”

Delaney Cox finished 7th with Isabel O’Connor not far behind in 10th. All three of these runners automatically qualified individually. Ainsley Lord finished strong in 17th place, Scottie Coleman finished in 24th, Tiffany Morris in 25th, followed by Kali Panoutsos in 32nd. The total score of the girls’ team was 59, earning them the third-place spot in the region 3A competition. They beat the second-place spot, York, by only six points. When asked about the race, Ainsley Lord said, “I felt like it went really well and am so happy that we get to go to States for the second year!”

With both teams finishing top three in the region, they advance to the state level. The State meet will be November 16th at Green Hill Park in Roanoke Virginia. The competition at the next level is fierce, but the runners are ready for anything. Rain, snow, mud, or even flowing streams in the middle of the course, will not defeat our Running Rams.