Jefferson Forest cashes in on home course
JILL NANCE/THE NEWS & ADVANCE
By Ted Allen
Media General News Service
Published: October 8, 2009
FOREST — On a spectacular opening day at Jefferson Forest’s panoramic Wolf Branch Farm course, it came as little surprise that the Cavaliers’ varsity girls and boys cross country teams cruised to first-place finishes against Seminole District rivals Brookville, E.C. Glass and Rustburg and the Peaks View Pacers, a team made up of home-schoolers.
What should have turned a few more heads was seeing Forest freshman Katie Vann cross the finish line in second place in the girls JV race, finishing runner-up to Carsen Wilkerson in 24 minutes, 35 seconds in a 1-2-3-4 JF sweep.
Vann, who broke her ankle at a travel soccer tournament at Virginia Tech in January of 2008, was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, on her 15th birthday, last Feb. 11.
“It’s been a nightmare ever since,” Katie’s mother Kristi Vann said.
After dealing with RSD for more than a year, she went through four weeks of intensive therapy at Children’s Hospital Boston over the summer and was cleared to start running cross country again just three weeks ago.
Wednesday was her first race.
“I was hoping I could just finish,” Vann said. “It was tough, but it was worth it.”
“She’s been working so hard in unbelievable pain every day,” Kristi Vann added. “God’s been with us and it’s been incredible. He does the healing and Katie does the work.”
Forest’s boys team had a somewhat inspirational 1-2-3 finish in the varsity race, with Justin Resendes, who has battled acute asthma throughout his career with the Cavaliers, coming in third in 18:01 behind teammates Todd tenPas (17:31) and Robert Deis (17:50).
“He’s so competitive when he runs he wants to be up with the leaders, and every time he does that, he doesn’t finish the race,” JF coach Jerome Loy said. “He gets so anxious. Today, he came by with 800 meters left and he wasn’t even breathing hard. He looked so strong.”
tenPas set a fast pace and led from start to finish.
“That was the best race I’ve had on this course ever,” said tenPas, who was beaten by Deis in the past three meets. “My strategy was to go out pretty fast the first mile and see if I could leave anybody. I went out a lot faster than I expected. My first mile was 5:02 and I normally aim for a 5:20.”
Peaks View sophomore Elizabeth Vernon took the lead midway through the girls varsity race and won in 20:35, taking nearly a minute off her time from last fall’s Runnin’ with the Wolves Invitational, when she finished seventh in 21:31.
“That was a PR for her,” Peaks View coach Sue Jones said. “She’s concentrating on going faster.”
Mary Deis and Leigha Schimmoeller came in second and third, respectively, for the Cavaliers.
“Leigha and I are good at pacing off each other and pushing each other,” Deis said, noting Brewer didn’t surprise her. “She’s a great runner. I tried to keep her in my sight.”
JF held off Brookville 40-30 in the team competition.
The youthful Bees were paced by a freshman, (McKenna Coalson, fourth in 21:41), a junior (Cathleen McCarron, fifth in 21:50) and a sophomore (Kaitlyn Brown, sixth in 22:03.)
“I was very pleased with how we ran today,” Brookville coach Cory Morris said. “We’re into the home stretch and we’re just looking forward to districts. I’m hoping for them to peak right at the right time.”
Forest will host the Seminole District championships at Wolf Branch Farm on Sept. 29. Next Wednesday, most Seminole squads will compete in a Region III preview meet hosted by Lord Botetourt at Greenfield Park.