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Fort Defiance's Lane, Waynesboro's Jolin capture Augusta Invitational cross country titles

By Patrick Hite, Staunton News Leader,


FISHERSVILLE — Maybe a third of the way through her race on Saturday was when Fort Defiance senior Abby Lane realized just how large of a lead she had on the Wilson Memorial cross country course. At that point she was about a minute ahead of any other runner. She finished comfortably in first, 1:38 in front of second-place Wilson runner Cassidy Plautz to win the Augusta Invitational.

Lane remembered reading something former Fort Defiance runner Ramsey Corbin said about running hilly courses, which the one in Fishersville certainly is. Corbin said he coasted down hills to conserve energy. He then used the momentum he got from going downhill, plus some of that energy he saved, to help propel himself up the next hill. On the flat parts of the course is when Corbin would recover and get back to his desired pace.

"That's what I was thinking, going down that really big hill, going up that really big hill," Lane said. "I had that in my head because Ramsey, he always had a big lead."

Her fastest time on the Wilson course had been somewhere around 20:12. On Saturday, she shattered that mark with a time of 19:39.10.

Celebrating her 17th birthday on Friday, Lane went out to dinner to celebrate. Earlier that day a nutritionist had talked with the Fort Defiance team, so fueling her body correctly was in the back of her mind when she ordered food. She had pasta with chicken and vegetables. It was a birthday, so she did have a slice of a cake, but no icing.

Heading into the week Lane had been dealing with some leg pain that had forced her to slow down running and work out on a bicycle instead. She wasn't happy with her run at a race in Salem a week ago, but Lane was really happy with her training this past week leading up to the Augusta Invitational.

After Lane and Plautz, Patrick Henry's Niav Murphy was third, Turner Ashby's Magdalen Lantz-Trissel was fourth and Grace Christian's Georgia Babish rounded out the top five.

Wilson Memorial won the team title by the narrowest of margins, edging Fort Defiance 55-56.

"We're still pretty early in the season," said first year Wilson coach Natalie Hall. "It's fun to defend your home course. I think they had a little bit of that mindset."

Hall is happy with where her team is physically. She said the push now is to get them where they need to be mentally.

Every runner counted on Saturday. Fort had a three-point lead after the first four runners for both teams crossed the finish line, but a strong finish by Alison Troxell, Wilson's fifth-place runner, was enough to give the Hornets the championship.

"It was fun to see our fifth runner come in strong at the end," Hall said. "Seeing her I was like, maybe we did it. That's one of our big things, having that hint of belief. Maybe I could, maybe we can. That's a big motivator for us. Let's put ourselves in position and see what happens."

Patrick Henry out of Roanoke took third, while Grace Christian was fourth and Turner Ashby finished fifth in the girls race.

On the boys' side, Waynesboro easily won with 40 points, 33 in front of second-place Wilson Memorial. The Little Giants had the top three finishers — Miles Jolin, Grayson Norris and Dylan Colander.

Waynesboro is building off of a district and regional championship, plus a fourth-place finish in states, a year ago. They lost the team's top runner, Adam Groves, to graduation, but that seemingly didn't slow the team down.

Norris gave credit to this year's lone senior, Cooper Mayo, for stepping into the leadership role after Groves left.

"He just brings up the team morale," Norris said. "He's also been coaching us really well. I think we really needed that. We needed a senior to lead us."

Jolin is coming off a lung infection that kept him from running a week ago in Salem.

"It was a good first race back, first week back," said Jolin, a sophomore. "I'm excited to see where we can go from here."

Jolin began running in seventh grade, otherwise known as Covid year. His mom had asked his brother if he wanted to run cross country. She didn't ask Miles.

"I was kind of jealous," Jolin said. "So I guess, technically, my brother got me into it."

Norris said the team goal this year is to get back to states. If Saturday's performance is any indication, the Little Giants are well on their way to accomplishing that goal.

"Those boys have worked really hard," said Waynesboro coach Julie Stevens. "We had a lot of shoes to fill from last year after Adam left us. But those boys have worked hard throughout the summer. They're right on track for where I want them to be and where they want to be."

In the boys middle school race, Stuarts Draft's Easton Nice won the individual championship while Wilson Middle took the team title in impressive fashion, taking five of the top nine spots for a 39-point win.

Kate Collins' Macey Rowe won the girls middle school race leading her team to victory. Kate Collins had five of the top 10 spots and finished with 29 points.

Wilson Memorial's Brenden Thomas won the boys' B-squad race and Wilson's Mikayla Aikens won the girls B-squad race.

Patrick Hite is a reporter at The News Leader. Story ideas and tips always welcome. Contact Patrick (he/him/his) at and follow him on Twitter @Patrick_Hite. Subscribe to us at

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