Williamsburg Christian Academy Cross Country Claims Top Spots at 10th Annual 5k for the ARC

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On a beautiful, 65-degree fall morning, seven of our Williamsburg Christian student-athletes headed to the Williamsburg Landing Retirement Community to participate in the 10th Annual 5k for the ARC. The ARC’s stated mission on their website is to ‘improve the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through community activities and advocacy.’


Runners Delaney Gibbons, Jack Marlowe, Jacob Thibeault, and Julian LaPastora surprised themselves at the Run for the ARC, all finishing in the top-ten in their age groups with three of them medaling for top-three finishes. Delaney Gibbons took 2nd place overall among female runners, while Jack Marlowe took 1st place. Jacob Thibeault also took 3rd place, and Julian LaPastora placed 8th for their age group. “Every one of the kids posted times that were considerably faster than their times at their first 5k in-conference meet,” commented Athletic Director and team coach Pam Gibbons. “In most cases, they were more than two minutes faster, and on a much hillier terrain to boot.”


Six runners that participated were members of the cross country team, and one younger sibling joined in. Elementary-age students and team members Daisy Marlowe and Faith Davenport decided to run the quick 1-mile race that set off in the brisk fall temperatures at 8:30 am. Daisy ran a speedy 7-minute mile taking first place honors through the finish line. Following her was hopeful future Eagle cross country runner and little brother, 2nd-grader Colton Marlowe (who, according to parents, “begged them to run” because his older sister and brother were both participating!). Faith speeded in for a third-place sweep of the early pre-5k race. Daisy Marlowe remarked to Coach Gibbons, “Maybe I should have run the 5k”.


Gibbons remembers fondly last year’s 5K for the ARC, as she and Svetlana Goncharova (WCA ’19) both ran the race to represent WCA and support the work of this fantastic community outreach event. Svetlana crossed the finish line in first among all female finishers, and now, one year later, is still going strong with her love of running. Svetlana has added a multitude of running accolades with first and second-place female finishes in numerous local 5k and 10k events.


5k for arc“This is such an amazing community event where a large number of ARC members come out to support the runners by volunteering during the run, or even running themselves, including WCA’s very own custodian, Jeff Kime, who finished the race with WCA runners by his side to cheer him on,” described Gibbons. “People are in great spirits for this race and are happy to run and donate to such a wonderful community outreach for these exceptional adults. It’s very touching.” Gibbons hopes that each year, the team can attract more participants from the school to join in on the fun. She added, “It’d be great to get some additional athletes from the rest of our various fall sport’s teams to join in as well. We’d also like to plan for future events where our runners and other members of the WCA family visit the ARC to volunteer with activities during the week as part of community service hours.”


Gibbons did not foresee the potential growth of cross-country at WCA when she set out this year to pull together a few kids from the middle school and high school to continue last year’s inaugural team. “Honestly, I figured I might grab two or three at most who might be interested,” she said, in that the team was just in its sophomore season. Gibbons was pleasantly surprised when she started seeing kids coming to her office to ask about joining. “Pretty soon we were up to a record number of 8 runners and looking at the athleticism of the kids joining, I thought to myself, ‘we’ve got the makings of something here!'”


The team is currently made up of student-athletes age ranges 11-14. Considered a JV level team, it is made up of two 5th graders, (Faith LaPastora, and Daisy Marlowe, also playing on the field hockey team this fall) two 7th graders, (WCA newcomer Joe Dill and returning basketball player, Julian LaPastora), two 8th graders, (Jack Marlowe, a basketball player and swimmer for the Eagles, and Cillian Clapp, also a swimmer). Clapp has been a special surprise as a contributing factor to the team’s early success. As a member of last year’s boys swim program here at WCA,  Gibbons approached Clapp to see if he might consider running because she “had a hunch he’d be pretty good at it,”  and he has improved immensely. The team also features two high school level athletes: newcomer to the school and ninth-grader, Jacob Thibeault, who has consistently been the number two male finisher on the team, and Gibbons’ daughter, ninth-grader Delaney. Mom stated she convinced her to join to cross condition with her demanding year-round swim schedule. The crew has three races under their belts, with this weekend’s ARC 5k being the most recent.


“I am so proud of every one of my runners. They are spectacular kids, respectful, kind-hearted, and encouraging to one another during events and practices. We have been very productive in a short period, and the kids’ hard work and their consistent effort is paying dividends,” Gibbons beamed when asked how she felt about the team. “Every one of my runners has made significant improvements in their running ability and race times since the start of the season. The best part of all is that I can see just how accomplished they are feeling in their improvements made since August. I am so honored to be a part of this team and am excited to see how cross-country could develop at WCA over the coming years.”


Judging from the progression of running seen so far this season, the Eagles are putting themselves in an excellent position for strong finishes at their upcoming conference matchups. The team will race next on October 17th when the Eagles face their conference competition Grace Christian School and Guardian Christian Academy. The team will run again with conference teams in the championship race on Oct. 21st at Pocahontas State Park in Richmond. “Whatever these kids can accomplish the remainder of this season, they are already huge winners in my book in so many ways. They are fine young athletes and good role models,” said Gibbons.
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