Galileo competed in the VHSL Class 1A State Championships in cross country at Green Hill Park in Salem this past Saturday. The Lady Falcons used their depth to reach the podium for the first time in school history and claimed the State Runner Up award.
Dogwood District Runner of the Year Morgan Whitley finished 10th overall and set a new school record time of 20:37 to lead the Lady Falcons of Galileo. Whitley was one of six Galileo girls to run a season best time on the biggest stage of the year. While Whitley nabbed the individual medal, it was the duo of Sydney Stone and Christa Zakhary that caught the attention of Galileo’s Coach Bryant. “Sydney and Christa placed an exclamation point on their season today!” Stone and Zakhary ran 57 seconds and 1:43 better than their previous season best effort to finish with times of 21:48 and 21:56 respectively. Zakhary missed the outdoor track season with a fractured leg and has spent the duration of the season trying to get back to the front of the pack. Senior Captains Angel Lin and Kiki McLaughlin rounded out the scorecard for Galileo. Lin ended her career with a personal best time of 22:11 while Kiki staved off an asthma attack to still break 23 minutes with her time of 22:59 which also serves as a career best. “Kiki has improved so much this year! For a senior to run 3:13 seconds better than her season best a year ago is not something you see every year” claims Coach Bryant.
Galileo’s top ranked freshman, and rising star, Camila Rodriguez finished the race only three seconds behind Kiki with her time of 23:02. Caroline Woods was Galileo’s final runner to cross the finish line and she, along with her teammates, completed what was a historic season for Galileo.
Galileo’s boys entered the meet with a bold strategy. Galileo entered into the race senior captain Owen Wood, sophomore sensation Cole Harbodin, and five runners who have never ran in the state championship meet. “Our first year runners often see substantial improvement from their season best times in comparison to veteran runners and we believed we needed to roll the dice to finish in the top two” states Coach Bryant.
While the strategy didn’t net a top two finish, the inexperienced runners stepped up and helped the Falcons finish in the top 5 for the third straight year. Cole Harbodin finished 11th overall to claim an individual medal with his 17:04 effort. Owen Wood completed his senior campaign with a season best time of 17:27 to place 22nd overall. Senior Blake Warren, in his first and final season, ran a time of 17:40 to finish third amongst the Falcon boys. Warren’s time was 45 seconds better than his career best. Jamison Mantooth, who a year ago ended the season with a season best time of 20:31, consistently ran times in the low to mid 18’s before ending his season with a solid performance of 18:18. Freshmen Alex Gomez-Hernandez and Jackson Herndon earned their way into the state finals and look to follow in the same growth curve as Mantooth in the 2020 campaign. Dylan Kirk completed the Falcon attack is poised to turn heads heading into the indoor track season.
“This year has been phenomenal,” states Coach Bryant. “This season we saw 10 boys run times under 19 minutes, four of which were under 18 minutes. We had the first girl in school history to bring home a medal in the state meet and for the first time the girls team managed to bring home a team trophy in only their second appearance at the championship meet.”
Galileo is poised to be even stronger and faster in 2020. With so many strong runners returning next year, both the boys and girls teams have their goals set on another podium finish.