Freedom Cross Country held the only home meet of the season on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Oatlands Plantation. Although Freedom doesn’t have a 5k course in it backyard like Rock Ridge or Potomac Falls, this meet was considered Freedom’s home meet since they were the host. This was a three team non-invitational meet against Riverside and Stone Bridge. A non-invitational meet means that there are unlimited entries per team, but teams tend to reserve some of their varsity athletes for the invitational meet.
Freedom’s girl’s team placed second, and the boy’s team placed third. Aislinn Garcia won the girls’ 5k race in 23:20. Sam Park was the top boys’ performer for Freedom, finishing seventh in 19:44.
Races like these are a great opportunity for runners to prove how much they’ve improved without the stressful atmosphere of an 80 team invitational meet. However, another meet was occurring concurrently with Freedom’s meet. Therefore, several more schools were lined up to race than there often are for non-invitational meets.
This venue is considered one of the most challenging courses in Virginia, making it difficult for athletes to improve their times. Especially compared to the course at Algonkian Park that Freedom athletes raced the previous week, the Oatlands course is considerably slower.
Danny Rutler is a sophomore on the cross country team. He finished in 21:42 at Oatlands, and was 10th for Freedom.
“Oatlands had a lot more teams, making the course more crowded and harder to maneuver,” Rutler said. “Algonkian had fewer teams, giving me more space. Also, Algonkian was a flatter course, allowing for faster speeds. Oatlands was more hilly, making it more tiring and ultimately harder to get a faster time.”
Freedom Cross Country will race their last non-invitational meet on Oct. 16 at Rock Ridge. There are also two invitational meets remaining in their season. The next one is the 2019 Glory Days Invitational on Oct. 12 at Bull Run Regional Park, and the last one is the Milestat.com XC Invitational on Oct. 19 at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville.