Photo Courtesy/Special Forces Track Club
Blistering the Hawaii Track


Loudoun Special Forces Track Club coach Julie Hayden placed second in both the 800- and 1,500-meter run in the women's ages 45-and-older division recently at the 2005 USA Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hayden was also a member of two relay teams (4x400m and 4x800m) that won gold at the championships.

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McLaughlin takes Pride in his running

By Carl Lukat
Junior Nick McLaughlin will be a nice addition to the Heritage cross-country team this fall, after spending his freshman and sophomore years at Leesburg Christian School.
Optimism is high at Heritage High School as the start of the fall cross country season looms closer.

Coach Matt Oblas has plenty of impressive runners to enter into races this fall, including newcomer Nick McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, a multisport standout at Leesburg Christian School in his freshman and sophomore years, is now focusing solely on running after competing favorably in his age group at the national level as a member of the Loudoun Special Forces Track Club the past two years.

ith a college scholarship through track and field his top priority, McLaughlin is attending Heritage as a junior.

“It's going to be a lot bigger,” said McLaughlin about his new school. “The kids have fun there and the coaches are outstanding. I'm really enjoying it.”

McLaughlin completed the 1,500-meter run in 4 minutes, 16.62 seconds to place 17th in the ages 15-16 division at the USA Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis July 25-29.

He has already made a strong impression on his new high school coach. Oblas expects McLaughlin will pair up with junior Dominick Kroupa and senior Jayme Maddox to give the Pride a solid top three this fall.

“Nick is a hard worker,” stated Oblas. “He is definitely going to be a good runner.”

McLaughlin credits his coach with Special Forces, Julie Hayden, for helping him take his running to the next level.

“She has been a really big help to me,” he said. “She has really been the one that has kept me going.”

Hayden is excited to see how McLaughlin fares in high school competition this year.

“He is physically very strong and he is also a great competitor,” said Hayden. “When it comes to a big race, he can usually produce it.”

Nick Savage, co-founder of Loudoun Special Forces, echoes Hayden's sentiments about McLaughlin.

"He's one of the most fiery competitors and gifted athletes we've had in our seven years,” said Savage. “Nick will attack the track. He has the speed and the tools to move on to the collegiate level."

McLaughlin will run in his first cross country event Saturday when Heritage begins the season at the Great Meadow Invitational.

He also plans to compete in indoor track over the winter and is really looking forward to the outdoor track season in the spring.

“Track is definitely my thing,” said McLaughlin, who set a goal of getting his 1,600-meter run time under 4:20 this year. “I'm doing cross country to keep in shape and to keep running year-round.”


Track club steadily grows in numbers

By Carl Lukat
Loudoun Special Forces Track Club members – athlete Ben Walker, co-founder Nick Savage and athlete Abdisamad Hassan – are pictured left to right at the Hershey's Track and Field Games Aug. 6 in Hershey, Pa.
Earl Cornish and Nick Savage founded the Loudoun Special Forces Track Club seven years ago with one goal in mind.

“To get kids to understand the joys of running and reach their potential as individuals in all aspects of life,” explained Savage. “I have the belief that individual sports give you the foundation to do that.”
Considering the club has grown from four members in its initial year to 110 participants currently, it's safe to say the idea has caught on.

“We needed something that was not overly organized to keep in touch with the families and kids,” said Savage. “Our motto is 'Keep the fun in excellence.' If you believe in what you are doing, good things are going to happen.”

Special Forces trains kids ages 7-18 to compete in regional, state and national track and field events throughout the year. The organization features 10 coaches and offers training to parents.

“The club really helps build relationships that last,” said Carla Anderson, who helps the club with marketing. Her son, 13-year-old Michael Clarkson, has been with Special Forces for five years.

“We really, really try to focus on the team aspect,” continued Anderson, “even though track is one of the most individualized sports.”

As the name implies,
Loudoun Special Forces Track Club has a close relationship with the military. Savage has extensive partnerships with the military through his training and software application work.

Some of the club’s participants have parents with military ties. Anderson stated that it’s common for the kids in the club to exchange e-mails with troops in Iraq.

“Special Forces requires supreme teamwork. It's an icon that summarizes excellence,” stated Savage. “And spiritually, it takes special forces to move you through life. It helps ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

While the club has produced many champions – 120 to be exact over the last four years at the district, region, state and national level – Special Forces welcomes runners of all skill levels.

“The part I like most is everyone leaves practice or an event feeling like they've done their best,” said Anderson.

The club also welcomes participants of other sports looking to cross train.

“I have no problem if this grows to 300 kids,” said Savage. “We are trying to create not just runners but also champions of life. I want to use sports as a vehicle to get kids to believe in education.”

The track club is currently selling “Support Special Forces” car ribbons and “Feel the Force” wristbands. Cost is $5 each, with half the proceeds going to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides scholarships for kids who lost parents at war.

E-mail Carla Anderson at to purchase ribbons and wristbands. Visit to learn more about the club.

5/17/2005 Loudoun Special Forces Track Club

Track: Loudoun Special Forces competed in the Glenarden Relays at the Prince George's Sports Complex in Maryland on Saturday. More than 2,000 athletes attended. Ben Walker led the pack with an outstanding performance in the 800-meter run. Sprinters and leapers Logan Smith, David McCarthy, Andre Best, Alexander Callahan, Nick Fochtman, Michael Clarkson, James McCray, John McCray, Anthony Cassine, Nia Hill, Tia Scottland, Brianna McNeely, Stephanie Love, Karissa Love, Karen Cassine and Brianna Smith blazed on the track and in the field.

On Sunday, Loudoun Special Forces competed at Langley High School. Middle distance coach Julie Hayden set an early example for her athletes by winning the women’s mile race. Hayden's son, Andrew made it a family double, passing the post first in the ages 11 and under event, with Austin Lombardi also finishing strongly. In their first track meet for the club, brothers Abdiwahab and Abdisamad Hassan went out fast in the open men’s mile, while personal records were set by Ryan McPoland, Josh Klug and Laura Ortel.

Special Forces was well represented in the sprints by Justin Clark, Anthony and Corey Gray, Nathan and Cody Williams, Kelly Kavanagh, Chad and Charlie Lehner, Mary and Erin Donovan, Chase Williams, Alexander DeHaven, Vania Hunter, Janelle Myers, Zach Turner, John Klees, Major Rogers, and Jordan and Nathan Barnette.

Four team moms also donned their track shoes for the 100-meter dash. Matt Panzica ran a strong double in the 400 and 800, and Kate Poisson and mom Tania Wiott were the Force’s multitalented athletes of the meet, tackling several events.

©Times Community Newspapers 2005