Greg Dunston coached Walter Johnson for thirty-five years and has coached Georgetown Prep's track teams for the past two years, but he has decided to take a season off this fall. However, he can never stay away from cross-country completely. This historic race (which Dunston has organized for the past thirty-six years) has been held at a variety of different venues over the years, and this was the second year that it took place at Georgetown Prep. Yet through nearly four decades, the format of the race has remained unchanged. Each school is allowed to run six pairs of boys, and an unlimited number of girls in the races. The leadoff leg of each pair runs one loop of the supposedly one-mile long course (it was probably at least a tenth of a mile longer this year). When the first leg approaches the starting line again, he or she hands off to his or her partner, and the partner runs the loop. They continue in this fashion until both the leadoff and anchor legs have run three miles apiece (six miles total).
While this unique style of conducting the meet is certainly intriguing and offers a relief from the standard high school 5K, the meet did not attract a great number of teams. There were twelve boys' teams in the varsity race and only nine girls' teams. Some would argue that this made the meet less competitive, given that Moco team powerhouses Churchill and Northwest (among others) were not present. However, the quality of the meet did not diminish, as Walter Johnson led the field in both the Boys' and Girls' divisions, followed closely by the Richard Montgomery on the Boys' side and the Potomac School on the Girls' side. Anyone who was in attendance saw some very enthusiastic teams perform today, and it was an exciting meet to run in as well.
The boys took off at 3:30 pm sharp. Sean O'Leary of Walter Johnson emerged first from the main part of the course, with teammate Ishan Dey and Sidwell Friends Freshman Matthew Kim in tow. O'Leary handed off to Roni Teich, while John McGowan of Sidwell and Alex Willett of WJ started the second legs. The next handoff saw no change in the lead, only a very tight race between Teich and McGowan. O'Leary gave his duo some breathing room on the next leg, however, finishing his second leg with a commanding lead on Dey. At this point in the race, Blair began to make a statement, with Rutvij Pandya coming in contact with the leaders on the second leg for the anchor runners. Teich maintained a sizable lead before handing off for the last time. When his counterpart returned from the rather hilly course, the lead was even larger and Teich finished off the last mile emphatically. Pandya of Blair finished thirty seconds behind, followed closely by the second WJ duo. Sidwell settled for fourth before the young Richard Montgomery squad got their first pair through the chute. WJ closed out the team scoring at 12 points, good enough for first overall, with Nicholas Regan and Tyler Boatright finishing in eighth place. The RM Boys grabbed second and Sidwell Friends took third.
The girls began as soon as the last anchor for the boys finished, and a Potomac School girl went out fast in front of WJ's Jennifer Spencer. Spencer handed off to Anna Bosse, who returned from the perimeter of the golf course with a comfortable lead. I unfortunately missed most of the middle of what transpired during the girls' race due to my dire need of a long cooldown. I was back in time to see the finish, which featured a Potomac School girl and an RM runner (I think) place first and second in front of WJ's Jenna Willett. Bosse finished in fourth place. WJ's third pair came in ninth place, providing their team with a low enough score for victory.
Although the novice race is not the feature event of the meet, one sophomore did his best to make himself noticed. Potomac School standout Campbell Ross utterly dominated the competition, winning by several minutes. It turned out that he was not actually racing for a prize, but in fact doing a time trial-esque workout. He declined to accept his ribbon, thus giving the official win to Walter Johnson freshman Josh Ellis, who finished in the low 21's. Second place went to Daniel Knoll of WJ, and third went to a Dematha runner.
All in all, many teams enjoyed a successful and action-packed meet. The weather was simply amazing in comparison to the conditions that Hurricane Hanna granted us over the weekend. A few things should be noted about this meet: Dematha did not bring their varsity team, and Georgetown Prep, despite playing host to the meet, did not run. Dunston definitely helped make this meet awesome, and I feel melancholy that this will be my last time running at Woodward.
(Sorry for the obvious Walter Johnson bias.)