Spotlight on Hailey Smith, Domonique Veney

Lancaster High’s Hailey Smith finished sixth in the state cross country meet.

Lancaster High’s Domonique Veney placed fourth in the state cross country meet.

Hailey Smith

Hailey Smith’s reputation preceded her.

The slender 14-year-old cross country runner had made a name for herself as an eighth-grade junior varsity runner by racing past the varsity competition in most of her 2017 races.

When Smith burst onto the varsity scene this season she was definitely the girl-to-beat in Region A.

In her freshman season with Lancaster High School’s cross country team, Smith won 10 races, including claiming the individual medal at both the Northern Neck and Region 1A meets and last Friday finished sixth among 98 runners at the Class 1A state meet.

And she made all of that look easy.

Racers crossing the finish line ahead of Smith at Great Meadows Event Park last Friday bent over in pain, huffing and puffing, some vomiting. Smith trotted across the line, clasped her hands behind her head and casually walked over to rest on a nearby bench.

Not boastfully, mind you. There’s not a boastful bone in her body.

Smith, who started running with Lancaster Middle School’s team as a sixth grader, is very modest about her accomplishments.

“I really just try to improve by a couple seconds every race,” she said. “Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.”

Smith’s best time…

Domonique Veney

A cross country novice, Domonique Veney was overwhelmed by the pace at last year’s state meet.

“It was a really hard race with a lot of fast people,” said the Lancaster High School senior.

A newcomer to the Red Devils team as a junior, Veney said he took up cross country to “just practice and stay in shape for track season.”

Well, he did a little more than just practice in his first season with the Devils, finishing 12th in the Class 1 meet. This year, he bettered that effort and can certainly be classified as “one of those fast people,” he envied last year, crossing the finish line fourth in a field of 104 runners in the state race.

He shaved almost a minute off his best time to set a personal record of 16:56 in the 3.1-mile race on a hilly, wet course at Great Meadows Event Park near Warrenton last Friday.

Previously, Veney’s best time was 17:42 as individual medalist of the Northern Neck District meet on October 24. He also was the runner-up at the Region 1A meet on November 2.

Veney won Lancaster’s last five regular season races this season, while teammate junior De’Avion Harding won the first four.

Harding and Veney pushed each other…