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FairfaxPotomac School wins boys state cross country title

Potomac School wins boys state cross country title

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What already was a standout season for the Potomac School Panthers entering the state-championship meet became the best campaign ever when the boys cross country team won the Virginia Division I private-school title for the first time in program history.

Potomac School finished first with 72 points in the high-school meet. St. Christopher’s of Richmond was second with 89 on the hilly 5,000-meter Woodberry Forest School course.

The Panthers, who were 14th in the state meet in 2019, were led by individual champion Charlie Ortmans. The 13-second winning time for the senior and Harvard University-bound runner was 15:43.

“We knew we could have a good season if we put our minds to it and put in the work,” Ortmans said. “I ran pretty well at the state and was able to take it out hard and press on a hard course.”


Ortmans was was one of five Potomac School runners to finish in the top 27. The others were junior Sasha Minsky in fourth (16:46), junior Alex Mathews in 15th (17:58), sophomore Zach Dalva-Baird in 25th (18:16) and freshman Eli Levine in 27th (18:17).

Also for the Panthers, freshman Trip Moser was 35th (18:38) and junior Max Zeldes 37th (18:42). Zach Lighthammer, another top runner for the team, was injured and did not compete.

“We finished fifth in the state last year, so we felt we had a top-three podium finish in the cards and in the range this season,” Potomac School boys coach Jason Dwyer said. “That was the goal. We were pretty healthy and everyone delivered well in the meet, and we ended up doing better than third.”

Mathews especially delivered by being the team’s third finisher. When Potomac School won the earlier Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference championship this fall, Mathews was the team’s seventh finisher in the meet.

“Alex had a great breakout day, and that helped us a lot,” Dwyer said. “It was his last race and he had nothing to save. We knew he was capable of that.”

The team won three races in all this fall, including a meet for small schools at the MileStat.com Invitational.

Individually, Ortmans has won all five races he has entered this season, including the MAC championship.

“This season was a big testament of how hard we worked for this,” Ortmans said. “The state win was the cherry on top. That was the most special part of the day.”

A number of the Potomac School runners, including Ortmans, plan to participate in the Champs Sports Cross Country South Regional high-school meet in Charlotte on Nov. 26. The top 10 finishers qualify for the national-championship meet.

* The Potomac School girls also had a strong Division I state meet with a third-place finish (93 points) and having four runners in the top 20.

Third place was the team’s highest ever in the Division I state meet. In 2006, the team did win the Division II state championship.

 Collegiate won this year’s Division I meet with 67 and Norfolk Academy was second with 89.

Leading the Panthers under head girls coach Bridget Gagne at this year’s Division I meet was sophomore Arielle Kouyoumdjian in fifth (20:29), senior Genevieve Harris in 11th (21:08), junior Kate Tuttle in 12th (21:15), junior Emmy Holland in 19th (21:46) and sophomore Kate Choi in 46th (23:31). Senior Emma O’Reilly was the Panthers’ sixth runner.

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