Hess runs to victory at Octoberfest


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THE PLAINS Hylton senior Jemissa Hess was given an abrupt wakeup call the last time she ran at Great Meadow.

On Saturday morning, she needed no such alarm clock.

After letting Fauquier sophomore Sarah Bowman race to a 100-meter lead in the first mile, Hess tracked her down in the second mile and then sprinted to a 13-second victory on an unseasonably warm morning. The win helped boost Hess’ confidence after finishing second to Potomac’s Jill Porto at the Great Meadow Invitational early in September. On Saturday, Porto finished 20 seconds behind Hess in fourth place, just behind third-place finisher Beth Fahey of Forest Park.

Hess finished in 18:56.98, 42 seconds slower than her winning time last year at Octoberfest, but not bad considering the 80-plus degree temperatures.

“Coming here, I wasn’t as comfortable, knowing that Jill was here,” said Hess, the 2001 Group AAA state runnerup. “But the girl that surprised me was the girl [Bowman] that went out in the beginning. I was a little shocked, I didn’t know who that was. I just kind of stayed with her, kept my eyes on her.”

On Saturday, Hylton coach John Rock wanted Hess to sit on the leaders instead of vice-versa. That plan worked out to perfection against Bowman, one of the top Group AA runners.

“This race strategy was kind of let the race see how it plays out instead of just going out there and leading the whole thing like she normally does,” Rock said. “Kind of see what the rest of the field had to offer on a given day.”

“She had a pretty big lead but most runners who do go out that fast, they tend to fade,” Hess said. “You go out too fast, you can’t hold it that much.”

Hess’ convincing win was not surprising to Porto’s coach Potomac’s Bill Stearns.

“I still think that Jemissa is the best runner in the state, she’s a machine,” Stearns said. “If it’s raining, snowing, hot, no one’s touching that girl. …She’s not bothered by inclement conditions.”

“Jemissa’s a really good runner and I’m trying to build up and stay with her,” Porto said. “It’s going to take a little bit for me to keep up with her because she’s an awesome runner.”

The Forest Park boys and girls were the big winners on Saturday. Led by Fahey’s third-place finish, the Bruins bested West Potomac 84 to 93 to win the girls race. Forest Park placed five runners in the top 24. Jessica Koch was 13th with a 20:53.15 while teammates Stefanie Slekis, Ecaterina Burton and Rebecca Gray placed 21st, 23rd and 24th.

The Bruin boys nearly matched the girls, placing four runners in the top 13 to finish second behind James Wood. Forest Park sophomore Bryce Iverson was fifth, Richard Bates, Eric Friedlein and Brandon Andrews were 11th through 13th and Josh LaFleur finished 32nd.

The Woodbridge boys finished fifth overall, paced by senior Galen Huling who finished 14th.

In the girls varsity “B” race, the Osbourn Eagles bested Clarkstown South (N.Y.) 118 to 125 for the victory. Woodbridge finished fourth overall, led by senior Beth Fowler’s fourth-place finish. Brittany Vogel and Elizabeth Mueller were 9th and 10th overall for Osbourn while teammate Lindsey North finished 15th.

In the boys varsity “B” race, Gar-Field took top honors placing four runners in the top 15 led by Chris Collins’ seventh-place finish.

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