Special to the Register & Bee
Galileo Magnet High School cross country teams prepared for their biggest test of the season Monday and accomplished a school first along the way — a region championship sweep.
The Falcons hosted the Virginia High School League Region 1B Championships on Monday at Anglers Park in Danville with nine schools in attendance.
The girls race was the first of the day and the Lady Falcons came in hungry. Galileo placed five runners in the top 12 to claim their second consecutive regional championship.
Leading the way was junior standout Morgan Whitley who finished second overall behind former 1A state champion Rachel Weghorst, of Rappahannock County, and ahead of bronze medalist Casey Allen, of Altavista. Having lost to Allen on the same course eight days earlier by a margin of 38 seconds, Whitley’s time of 21:16 faired 26 seconds better than Allen Monday.
“Morgan was absolutely terrific today” Galileo coach Mark Bryant said.
Following Whitley was senior captain Angel Lin who placed sixth overall in her final home race as a Falcon. Also claiming medals for the Falcons were Sydney Stone (eighth), Christa Zakhary (ninth) and freshman standout Camila Rodriguez (12th). This strong performance lead the Lady Falcons to the team title, beating out a strong Riverheads team by 18 points.
The boys were up next in a highly contested battle. Galileo and Riverheads would go back and forth throughout the race in their attempt to capture the team championship.
The Galileo boys placed six runners in the top 15 to capture the regional championship that eluded them last season. This marks the second region crown in three years for the Falcon boys.
Up front for Galileo was the dynamic duo of Cole Harbodin and senior Owen Wood, a recent Bridgewater College commit, who placed third and fourth overall respectively. Also placing in the top 15 to garner medals and help secure the region title were Jamison Mantooth (eighth), Victor Cano-Barranco (11th), Dylan Kirk (12th) and senior captain Jackson Wiles (14th).
The Falcons finished 11 points ahead of last year’s champion Riverheads who, a year ago, prevented Galileo from winning back-to-back boys titles.
Both the boys and girls will be competing in the VHSL 1A state cross country meet Nov. 16 at Green Hill Park in Salem.
The girls are currently ranked second in the state.
“The pressure is not on us to win, the pressure is on the other teams to stave us off,” Bryant said.
“But, truthfully, at this point in the season there is no work left to be done, we just have to run the race the way we have prepared all season and hope that the other teams fall back to us.”