As expected, the Quince Orchard boys and Churchill girls completed their quest for the division titles this week. The depth of these teams allowed for a relaxed divisional finale with little chance of any upsets. The varsity athletes from each team needed to do no more than finish the race to solidify their record at 6-0. They were able to do that on a nice but warm day on a true cross country course through the woods with almost no section of the course repeating. It was a good tune up for the large invitational meets to come this weekend.
Walter Johnson and Churchill regularly run all of their home meets in Cabin John Park, so the narrow and rocky trails with hills and creek crossings were nothing new to them. Quince Orchard, however, was unfamiliar with the course and with a few guys who were expected to lead the way, took part in the entire 45 minute course walk which covered almost the entire 5k. Some of them felt drained after such a long walk, but when it was race time, they were ready to roll. When the gun went off for the varsity boys’ race, a large pack of red QO jerseys moved to the front and never relinquished that lead. After 15 minutes looping through the woods, Neal Darmody emerged first onto the baseball field for the long drive to the finish. Darmody finished first in 16:49, followed 31 seconds later by teammate Artem Panasenkov. QO proceeded to finish 7 athletes in the top 10, allowing only 2 WJ runners and 1 Churchill runner to break up their pack. It should be noted that one of QO’s key runner’s, David Laratta, rested while the sophomore (and currently the only hope for the future) Wayne Bartholomew filled out the top 7.
QO head coach Sean Pelkey told his guys, “Go out and win the division.” For them, that meant run a good hard race with no pressure, but stay alert just in case. After a few weeks of training through these divisional meets, it is time for QO to showcase their talent on an elite national level at the Paul Short Invitational. Pelkey feels that this is when things get interesting. This is where he sees what his team is made of and how they truly stack up against the best of the rest.
The Churchill girls already had their toughest dual meets behind them and had already defeated both challengers from this meet. They simply needed to show up and claim what was theirs. They assured their team’s victory right off the bat when their top 3 came in before anyone else’s #1.
Churchill’s assistant coach Dave Warren said that it was nice to be done with the divisional meets and is looking forward to some large invitationals. They will get their fill this weekend at the Maymont Invitational in Richmond, Virginia against many NTN regionally ranked teams. They themselves are a regional “bubble” team, but Warren says it’s best for his girls not even to think about that and to just run their own races.
Anyone who was looking for a tight team battle between 3 undefeated girls’ teams was probably a little disappointed after Wednesday’s tri meet hosted by Damascus High School. Wootton proved to be head and shoulders above Damascus while Damascus in turn distanced themselves from B-CC by quite a bit. But anyone who wanted to see fast times on a spectator-friendly course along with a few surprises, this meet had more than enough.
The Damascus girls pushed the race hard from the beginning, forming an intimidating front pack in the first stretch. But it wasn’t long before Veronica Salcido of Wootton charged to the front, followed closely by Addie Tousley of B-CC and Jessie Rubin of Wootton. Those three eventually dropped all of the Damascus girls except for Taylor Colbert, who maintained a large lead over the field through the first mile. After disappearing into the wooded section of the course, which was reportedly hilly with rough footing, it was Salcido and Rubin who reemerged side by side with a large lead. Those two would not be touched for the rest of the race and would finish 1-2 in 19:33 and 19:34, but the real fight was behind them as Kerry Nisson and Iona Machado of Wootton worked their way up to Tousley and Colbert. That pack of four held close for the entire second half of the race. On the final stretch, Tousley barely edged out Machado while Nisson finished a few strides ahead Colbert, making it mathematically impossible for anyone else to beat Wootton, despite a weak #5.
The Wootton girls are excited about what they accomplished, and with such rapid improvement in the first month of the season, they are set to do big things at Bull Run this weekend.
The start of the boys’ race looked very much like the girls race with 5 Damascus boys leading through the first half mile. The B-CC boys, led by seniors Dylan Straughan, Alex Prevost, and Kyle Short, gradually worked their way up throughout the race, picking off Damascus runners one by one. They would eventually win the meet, moving up to 2nd in their division with one more meet to go against Blair. Nobody, however would pick off Damascus’s front runner Wil Zahorodny, who ran all alone to a county best time of 16:14. Zahorodny is looking forward to leading his team on a nice course at the Oatlands Invitational this Saturday. B-CC, who put 3 boys under 17:00 and two more under 17:20, will be looking to catch the attention and respect from Maryland fans at the Bull Run Invitational.