Whitman High School claimed the overall girls team title at the DCXC Invitational in Washington DC on Saturday. In doing so, Whitman demonstrated great all-around team depth. The unique meet format demands that three runners score in every grade level, meaning that 12 runners across four grade levels comprise the final score for each team.
For Whitman's head coach, Steve Hays, it was not a big deal to put extra runners into a varsity situation.
"For me, 'varsity' is that top twelve or so," said Whitman's head coach, Steve Hays.
Whitman's senior class was its strength with four girls who finished in the top 9 in the senior class race. Madeleine Blaisdell was the surprise #1 for Whitman with a fifth place time of 19:52, and Elizabeth Sklaire also finished closer than usual to her teammates, Emmersen Weinberg and Alicia Lauwers. There was a 27 second spread among their top four in the senior race. The senior class will continue to carry Whitman for the rest of this year, but the Vikings needed to rely on their other classes for the DCXC Invitational.
Said Hays, "We have a really good senior class that everybody knows about. We had a really outstanding freshman class last year which is our sophomore class this year, and we have a really great freshman class this year again. With those two together and some really good junior runners, we were able to put it all together so we were really excited."
Whitman put four girls in the top 18 in the freshman class race, four girls in the top 37 in the sophomore class race, and three girls in the top 38 in the junior class race.
Walter Johnson's Ella Gaul and Jenna Goldberg each won their respective class races, making Walter Johnson the only school with two individual varsity winners on Saturday. Gaul broke away from the junior class field in the second mile and eventually won in 19:39 while Goldberg broke open the senior class race in the first mile.
Goldberg was in no hurry to get to the front of the pack initially. She looked about 40 runners deep in the first two minutes of the race, but after the initial opening dash, she held a spot on the outside and drifted past runners five or six at a time.
Said Goldberg, "I don't normally like sprinting out of the gate because that would just tire my legs out. It was where I wanted to be. I'm not...a lot of other people around me are faster sprinters, so it's kind of just letting them sprint and waste their energy so I can just snake around them. My goal is always to get on the edge so I do have that ability to pass them without interrupting anyone else's race."
She only remained with the leaders for a brief time before she decided to move past them as well. Her officially timed first mile, 5:45, was ten seconds faster than the first mile from any other runner the entire day. Her 11:37 2-mile was 38 seconds faster than the next runner and her 18:05 final time was a minute faster than any other finisher the entire day.
The course has a changed over time, but with that said, Goldberg's 18:05 was the fourth fastest Montgomery County performance ever recorded at the DCXC Invitational. Only two performances from Abigail Green (2016 and 2017) and one from B-CC's Nora McUmber (2014) were faster.
So while Goldberg was clearly the fastest runner of the day on Saturday, she created an additional challenge for herself in the cyclists who cleared the path for each race.
Said Goldberg, "I was kind of just focusing on the bikes ahead of me. I used them as my competition...I almost [caught them] once and I was excited, but I didn't. They started biking faster."
The fastest Montgomery County male runner of the day was Walter Johnson's Jacob Marks who finished fifth in the senior boys race in 16:24. He watched a very strong pack of four take off in front of him while he initially led the chase pack. His first mile split was 4:59.
Said Marks, "I tried to stick with them for the first mile. I came in like ten seconds behind. And then I kind of stayed in the same position until around two miles in...10:30, I was like, 'wow I really need to pick it up or I'm going to be screwed.'"
He lost his fifth place position briefly in the final mile but refocused and regained fifth to finish with the fastest Montgomery County time of the day, 16:24. The next fastest Montgomery County time came from Churchill's Tsach Mackey who finished fourth in the junior class race in 16:41.
Montgomery County's lone male varsity winner of the day was Northwest's Gage Osborne, who matched St. Albans's Pierre Attiogbe stride-for-stride for two miles (5:29/11:19 splits) and pulled away to win the freshman class race by 16 seconds in 17:27.