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WCAC XC Championship Recap
By: Cory Puffett
Photo by Michael Fopma
2010@puffett.com
2008-10-26


This past Saturday, several schools representing one of the toughest private school conferences in the region gathered on one of the most difficult courses in the region. Only a limited number of runners have ever gone under 17-minutes on this incredibly challenging course. This course represents what true cross country is. The hills, the flats, the broad ‘spectrum' of terrain run on. The course begins on an uphill which stretches for about 200m. This is followed by a downhill of approximately equal length. The runners make a U-turn and tackle the hill they just conquered once more immediately after that. This is followed by two stream crossings, the first being by far the more significant as the second can be hurdled by many runners. This is an exciting part of the race since the athletes run in between two walls of spectators as they enter and then exit the stream. The runners then have their first of the steep hills, which crests at the first mile marker. This is followed by a short exit from the woods and then after about 300m or so, they reenter to tackle two more huge hills which challenge the runners physically and, perhaps even more so, mentally. This course is comparable even to Bull Run at Hereford. Certainly Lake Fairfax doesn't have The Dip, or anything really close to it for that matter. But anyone who has run Lake Fairfax can honestly say that it will be one of the toughest courses they will ever run.

After two years of Gonzaga and DeMatha fielding the only full freshman teams, this year there were five, with the most competitive being Gonzaga (no surprise there) and Good Counsel. Both teams made excellent showings. Gonzaga, as usual, had their 25-50 freshman (not 50 but it certainly seems it). However, Good Counsel putting runners through in the first four spots was too much for Gonzaga to handle. The Purple Eagles put their first four in by the ninth position. However, Good Counsel's number five finished in 10th while Gonzaga's was 17th. This race would not have been nearly as close in a larger meet. Good Counsel dominated this competition.

I didn't catch much of the JV races either. Good Counsel had some of the top positions early on, but Gonzaga quickly took over the race and easily scored a perfect 15, taking the top 10 spots.

Unfortunately, I don't have much information on the girl's race after the stream crossing because I was getting ready for my varsity race. However, I do know that Bishop O'Connell senior Megan Fitzpatrick went out at a torrential pace. Very few who went with her at the start were able to hang on to survive this course. However, this year's girl's varsity race was one of the more competitive of the past few years. Sophomore Chinyelu Asher of Holy Cross was able to finish within 15 seconds of the O'Connell star, but was not the only runner to finish in eyesight of Fitzpatrick. Lizzie Greene (PVI), Katie Koenig (GC), and Claire Whitesell (O'Connell) each finished within five or six seconds of Asher. Several freshman girls made their Championship debut in this race as well. Nicole Carty of O'Connell was the highest placing freshman in this race (6th), with a time of 21:06. Nicole Puffett (Elizabeth Seton) finished 8th with a time of 21:24. Also, Ireton's top three girls were freshmen, Aubrey Gartlan (24:09, 19th), Hannah Cooke (24:11, 21st), and Ellie Marrin (24:23, 23rd).

Once again, what I know about the boy's race isn't exactly thorough. Much of this info comes from spectators, and unfortunately, that means mostly DeMatha spectators since I didn't talk about details with people from other teams. Cory Puffett finished first in 16:41 (about 12 seconds or so off the course record). Junior Bill Ledder of Gonzaga finished in second (17:13) and the mud on the side of his jersey as he came in suggested that he may have fallen during the race. DeMatha senior Robert Patterson was third in 17:20. He fell during the reentry into the woods on a new path, one of the course alterations from last year. Ian McGinn from PVI finished close behind in 17:33. After that, Good Counsel put three guys across the line quickly with Graves , Rainard, and Riely finishing within ten seconds of each other and Charles Horne of Paul VI getting the edge on Riely by less than a second. After that it became the ‘Gonzaga Show.' The Eagles had runners finish in five of the next six places and the race was pretty much over. The Falcons' only shot would have been to have their number five runner, sophomore James Henriksen, move up about 23 seconds and finish just ahead of DeMatha's number three, freshman Onyx Johnson.

With the Private School State meet in two weeks, it will be very interesting to see how the WCAC is represented. Variables (like slippery hills) created by the rain starting within 15 minutes of the Varsity Boy's race beginning certainly played a role in how the race developed. However, Gonzaga's win was very convincing and it's hard to believe that runners not falling would have made enough of an impact on the outcome to have the WCAC trophy change hands. Good luck to all the runners over the next two weeks. Gonzaga should represent well at the Agricultural Farm Park.

Please leave comments since I know I missed plenty, such as the JV girl's race. Any details I missed would be well received and educational for the readers so we can all know exactly what's going on, or what went on.





Article Comments - Add A Comment

NameComment

Anonymous
2008-10-26 12:13:11

GREAT article! The recap is very interesting and well written.

Anonymous
2008-10-26 13:00:45

gonzaga's varsity b team had something like 1 through 10

Anonymous
2008-10-26 16:21:45

yea, i think he meant varsity B when he said JV

Anonymous
2008-10-26 16:56:26

Did anyone fall in the stream?

Anonymous
2008-10-26 17:03:39

yea i'm curious about that too. i know i didn't see anyone fall when i was watching. but i might've missed something. i was really surprised cuz usually a couple freshman will fall but i dont think any did this year. but yea, the varsity girls and boys races, i didnt get to the stream quick enough and couldn't get a good spot so i'd like to know that too

Rob Bock
2008-10-26 17:07:24

Nice recap, dude. I think you could have a future in this.

Cory Puffett
2008-10-26 17:12:29

Thanks man. That means a lot coming from you.

Anonymous
2008-10-26 17:31:30

wow good counsel put 3 guys ahead of gonzaga's #2. were they supossed to be that good.

Cory Puffett
2008-10-26 17:39:55

Well, the thing with Gonzaga is that they have Billy Ledder. Will Fluery too when he has a good day. Unfortunately yesturday wasn't one of his better days. After the two of them their other guys are all in a pack. That pack running is what got GC. But if you look at the JV results, the winner (from Gonzaga) wasn't far behind their last varsity runner. GC has Kyle Graves, and the dude is a beast. Next year should be exciting with him, Ledder, and me competing for those top three spots. And no one knew before the race if Rainard or Riely would be running, and if so how they would place because they've been so inconsistant this season. But with them performing, it's not way too surprising that they were able to get in there. If Fluery had had a better race he might have gotten one or two of them though.

Anonymous
2008-10-26 18:09:58

Cory, I know that it all depends on off season training, incoming freshmen, and what-not, but based on the results of the race(s) who do you think will have the best team next year?

Anonymous
2008-10-26 19:27:38

is billy only a junior?

Reilly McCarthy
2008-10-26 20:01:17

yes billy is only a junior and gonzaga looks to be the force to reckon with again next year possibly being even better than this year. gonzaga will lose 3 of the runners who ran in the Varsity A race after this year but Lewis, Flaherty, Dattoli, Ryan, Greene, Shannon, Dempsey, and little Creamer who all finished in the top 10 of the Varsity B race look to step up for those slots next year. should be interesting to see what will happen and next year should be another close conference championship

Anonymous
2008-10-26 20:37:09

It sounds to me like Gonzaga is a going to be a force to reckon with for many more years. That sophmore class is incredibly impressive. Also, all those juniors! If they train in the off season they will surely OWN the WCACs for next year. If I was a incoming freshman looking to run XC for a great school. I would surely pick Gonzaga! But will they be as deep as they are now? The anonymous Gonzaga runners behind that huge JV pack need to train if Gonzaga hopes to continue their total dominance of the JV races to the extent they have dominated this year.

WCAC Parent
2008-10-26 20:46:21

I agree 100%! If I was an incoming freshman looking to go to a school for track or cross country, I would have to be crazy not to choose Gonzaga.

Anonymous
2008-10-26 21:27:09

obviously Gonzaga is favored at private school states but GC and Dematha will be pretty hungry, we will see

Cory Puffett
2008-10-27 05:51:16

Anonymous wrote: Cory, I know that it all depends on off season training, incoming freshmen, and what-not, but based on the results of the race(s) who do you think will have the best team next year? As you said it really does depend on the off season training. Are they running track, are they doing anything over the summer? I think DeMatha has some guys that will be tough to beat next year. We're only loosing two runners from Varsity, and our top two JV runners this year are sophomores. Good Counsel has some great runners, too, the most impressive being Kyle Graves. If they get some runners together training for the off-season, Good Counsel could have a shot next year as well. As for Gonzaga, as was said, they have some unreal depth. They had several JV runners who could have stepped up to replace a varsity runner at little to no loss. With Ledder and Fluery being juniors, and depth to last the next few years at least, Gonzaga will, most likly, be the team to beat once again next year.

Anonymous
2008-10-27 08:10:48

Regarding the private school state meet: don't forget there are many other top individuals and teams that are not in WCAC. Calvert Hall is the 2-time reigning champion, and Spalding has a strong team. St. Albans and Georgetown Prep will be factors, plus strong individuals from Sidwell and Landon. Lots of runners fell on the hill re-entering the woods after the cricket field (on the new path). That's where Ledder picked up the mud on his uniform (and lost contact with Puffet). I saw several other runners go down too.

Anonymous
2008-10-27 12:29:39

Gonzaga's freshmen team was considerably smaller this year. Only about 10 kids give or take 3.

Anonymous
2008-10-27 14:54:06

Weird thing about Varsity Boys Championships that I noticed: O'Connell: 2004- 1st 2005-2nd 2006-3rd Dematha: 2006: 1st 2007: 2nd 2008: 3rd Good Counsel: 2007: 1st 2008: 2nd Gonzaga: 2005: 1st 2006: 2nd 2007: 3rd Every team gets worse after winning a championship since Good Counsel won in '99-'03.

Anonymous
2008-10-27 17:23:03

NOT NEXT YEAR BABY!!!! Gonzaga's already won that!!!!

Anonymous
2008-10-27 22:24:00

Fleury has beaten Graves head to head this season by the way, so don't count him out of that ongoing match up.

Collin Leibold
2008-10-28 22:58:26

Thanks for the recap.

Anonymous
2008-11-08 15:59:13

the freshmen of the class of 2012 are absolute studs! Gonzaga has Mike Crozier who is close to breaking 18 and Tom Fergus right on his tail. GC has some phenoms as well; Michael Fitzgerald, Nathan Brockett, and Skyler Fopma. I cannot wait to see a head-to-head between Mike Crozier and Mike Fitzgerald in the coming years. Def keep an eye on Fergus and Brockett/Fopma; those 3 plus the Crozier/Fitzgerald matchups will lead to some very great running over the coming years. Colleges, you might want to start scouting now.

Mike Crozier
2008-11-09 10:04:47

Anonymous wrote about Fitzgerald and me as if we were the top frosh of the WCAC. He 100% forgot about Jack Riely of GC who is phenomenal and of one kid at Ireton whose first name is Liam (I think) who is also up there with great talent. I know that Fitz and Riely were pretty consistent varsity runners for GC and that Skyler Fopma (Good Counsel) ran up yesterday at the DC-MD Private School Champs.

Anonymous
2008-11-22 18:36:12

Liam O'Connor is his name. I think that in the next couple years if Ireton works at it, they can have a shot at the title.

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