Walter Johnson High School's Jenna Goldberg shattered the Montgomery County Championship course record of 17:46.62 with a blistering 5k time of 17:28. Richard Montgomery's Charlotte Turesson recorded the #3 all-time performance on the course with a time of 17:51.
That course record set in 2016, and the previous top three times ever recorded on the Bohrer Park course, belonged to Abigail Green, a former teammate of Goldberg.
Said Goldberg, "My freshman year and my sophomore year, too, honestly when she was on the team I looked up to her like crazy. I was like, 'That's Abbey Green. No one stops her. She's amazing.' And it's just crazy to see that my times are up there with hers. Setting her course record today feels really good."
Prior to the county championship meet, some of Goldberg's times this season approached but did not surpass Green's performances on comparable courses. For example, Goldberg was ten seconds slower than Green's 2016 Manhattan Invitational performance, and she was just eight seconds slower than Green's 2016 Oatlands Invitational performance.
At Saturday's Montgomery County Championship Meet, Goldberg blew by Green's 2016 course record and every high school 5k performance recorded by any Montgomery County girl dating back to 1994 when Walter Johnson's Sally Glynn finished as runner-up at Footlocker Nationals in 17:12. Now Goldberg hopes to join Glynn and Green as the only Montgomery County girls to ever qualify for Footlocker Nationals, and unlike Glynn and Green, she is fortunate to have a nationally elite rival just a few miles up the road.
Charlotte Turesson deserves much of the credit for Saturday's historical run. Unconcerned with pace or splits, the two enjoyed a head-to-head race in its purest form. With Goldberg leading for much of the first two miles, Turesson said that she was just trying to hang on, but in the third mile, she made her move.
"With about 1200 left," said Turesson, "I wanted to, well, obviously run for the win. I wanted to push a little bit and see if she would react...see if I could get a little space between us, maybe kick all the way to the end and see if...it would be beneficial to me."
It was reminiscent of last year's race where she dropped Sherwood's Katie Kaneko at a similar spot on the course to win her first county title, and the strategy may have come closer to working on Goldberg than she realized.
Goldberg described her state of mind when she began to lag her rival for the first time. "Not gonna lie: I was pretty...mentally I was like, '[groan].' It was really tough on me mentally."
In hindsight, losing the lead may have been the best thing for Goldberg. She said that she mentally regrouped and focused on the space between herself and her opponent. She focused on closing the gap and when the lines turned blue, meaning there was about a quarter mile drive to the finish line, she moved into the lead for what she assumed would be a quarter-mile-long frenzied duel to the end.
"I was scared for my life," said Goldberg with a bit of hyperbole. "I thought she was right behind me. I don't know why, but I always tend to think that there's people right behind me. Then hearing everyone else cheering, I thought that she was right there so I was kind of running for my life."
But Turesson was no longer there. Goldberg had no way of knowing that she amassed a 23 second lead over the final quarter mile. Turesson said that her legs were "feeling it like crazy," and that she could not react or push any harder. She had only complimentary things to say about Goldberg following the race, and she is anticipating two more all-out wars to finish out the season.
Said Turesson, "Jenna's obviously a really, really smart racer. She's fast. She's competitive and I just feel like it's going to be a head-to-head again, just grit and all mental strength."
Goldberg took on the old adage that she won the battle but not the war.
"I can't get comfortable," said Goldberg. "I beat her this time. I need to realize that she's still an incredibly strong runner. She's still incredibly good competition."
Whitman High School won its second consecutive girls county title and eleventh in meet history. The eleventh title broke a tie with Walter Johnson High School and is a record on the girls' side. Coach Steve Hays had won two boys and two girls county titles previously in his tenure, but he never dealt with such great expectations to repeat in back-to-back years.
"It was different because last year nobody thought we could do it," explained Hays. "And so we kind of used that as sort of a battle cry: 'No one's expecting us to win.' This year I think we had a little more of a bullseye on our back and expectations are probably a little bit higher for us. At the beginning of the season we came out pretty strong and WJ kept getting closer and closer to us and a lot of people thought that WJ could beat us...Senior leadership really came in focused and brought up the two freshmen and the sophomore and really showed and let them know how important this was and just worked hard together as a team."