MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
More than 150 students from 16 high schools ran the Quantico Middle/High School Cross Country Invitational near John H. Russell Elementary School on Sept. 11.
This 5k invitational had purposes. For the young runners to meet their peers from other divisions and get in some practice before their first Delaney Athletic Conference meet at Foxcroft School in Middleburg at 4 p.m. on Sept.18. It was also to honor those victims of the day in 2001 that many will never forget.
“I thought it would be proper to remind all children here, who were only two to six-years-old in 2001, that something tragic did happen,” said Paul Roy, Quantico MHS athletic director. “They heard about it growing up and read about it, but it’s good for them to honor the living and the fallen, and remember that freedom is not free.”
The Quantico MHS Junior ROTC Color Guard started the invitational with the presentation of the colors and was followed by a reading of facts from 9/11 and a brief moment of silence. Michael Johnson, Quantico MHS principle, fired the starting pistol for the male division.
Majority of the runners representing Quantico were first year runners having never participated in a cross country event before. Even with the inexperience, Joshua Thom, Quantico MHS cross country coach, believe had confidence that his team would do him proud.
“A lot of the other kids who have been here before, love coming here because they want to beat the challenges our trail has to offer,” Thom said. “As for my team, I’m looking for every single one of them to give their personal best today and get them prepared for the first DAC meet.”
In the male division, as a team, Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School located in Dumfries took first place, while Quantico came in sixth. In the female division, first place went to Wakefield School and Quantico came in fifth.
Individually, Tyler, a Quantico MHS ninth-grade runner, came in third in the male division with a time of 20 minutes and 48 seconds. This was Tyler’s second appearance in a cross country event.
“I was trying my best to finish in the top 10,” Tyler said. “I feel great that I succeed at that goal.”
While some runners set out to be the best they could representing their school proudly, others were running for a more symbolic purpose.
“My father was an Army colonel killed in action over in Iraq back in 2007,” said Paul, a ninth-grade runner for Saint Michael the Arch Angel located in Fredericksburg. “I could mentally hear him telling me to continue to push myself during the race. I believe I accomplished my mission of making him proud.”
Paul explained how after the race that he looked up to the sky and said “this one’s for you Dad.”
Quantico’s upcoming race will be on Oct. 2 at Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal.