Cross country claims division championship

Oct. 9, 2008, midnight | By Rose Wynn | 12 years ago

Blair defeats Clarksburg to finish season undefeated


Blazer runners crushed the previously undefeated Clarksburg Coyotes at the final meet of the cross country season yesterday, taking the title of Division III champions. Junior Roxanne Oroxom took second place for the girls, followed closely by senior captain Elaine Chung who stole third. Senior Rutvij Pandya finished first for the boys, breaking the Clarksburg course record with a time of 16 minutes and 38 seconds, and senior Greg Vogel dashed to second place.

Coaches Eric Prange and James Demma were elated about the team's performance during the season. "We had a few injuries that slowed us down, but everyone improved and everyone enjoyed the team," Demma said. "Those were our goals."

Because of their notable performance, Demma believes it is important that the team recognizes their victory. "We're definitely going to celebrate this win," Demma said. Prange agreed that the victory was important, but emphasized that the team is only halfway there. "We're really excited about being undefeated, but our goal is still to run the best at counties," he said.

This race served as a precursor for the county-wide competition, which is approaching within the next couple of weeks. Blair's goal for the race is to rank within the top ten teams, according to Chung. She believes that Blair's performance against Clarksburg already displayed significant progress towards this objective. "We had five girls with times under 22 minutes," Chung said. "Those are the kind of times we need for counties." Regardless, Vogel knows it will take further training and practice. "This race made us pretty optimistic, but we still know we have a long way to go," he said.

At Clarksburg, Pandya and Vogel were initially challenged by a lead Coyote runner, who determinedly kept their pace until the end of the first mile. At that point, Pandya surged past him while Vogel raced persistently behind. "I knew what I had to do," Vogel said. "I stayed with the [Clarksburg runner] and after two and a half miles I made my move and passed him." Rutvij and Vogel raced along the final stretch of field, with Vogel only eight seconds behind Pandya when he crossed the finish line.

The two have stolen first and second in every meet this season, and Prange is constantly impressed by their performance. "Rutvij and Greg continue to improve," he said.

Two Clarksburg racers threatened the Blazers' lead at the beginning of the girls' race, keeping their edge through the first mile. "Clarksburg went out really fast," Chung said. "They didn't hold back and it was really a challenge. I usually go out slow and pass [my opponents] in the end, but their running strategy forced us to run faster." Oroxom did just that, remaining on their tails while Chung, sophomore Theresa Regan and freshman Myla Sapp kept close on her heels at the first mile mark, providing support for their teammate. As the race continued, Chung gained an edge on one of her opponents, eventually pushing past her to take third place at the finish. "I was really proud of the way I ran," she said.

All Blazers were excited about their performance, as Clarksburg's competitive team offered a welcome challenge for Blair runners. Vogel identified the meet as the hardest yet. "They put up a pretty good show," he said. "We won by a slim margin." The two leading Clarksburg girls forced lady Blazers to race harder and push themselves further. "We knew it would be a test," Prange said. "But Roxanne and Elaine stepped up and ran tough." Chung agreed that the Coyote runners presented a refreshing challenge. "We didn't have that kind of competition for our other meets," she said.

The defeat of Clarksburg established Blair as the Division III champion for the season, and this year is the first in which both boys and girls went undefeated. "I'm really excited," Oroxom said. "We worked really hard for this." Other runners were upbeat as well, due to the fact that almost every Blair runner created a personal record in the meet.

Blair cross country competes at the county competition on Saturday, Oct. 18.

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