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Preseason XC Notes
By: Kevin Milsted

I was not able to go out and visit nearly as many teams as I have the past two preseasons, but I was able to get a look at a couple teams before the first big meet.

Whitman Time Trial

Whitman met at the WMAL Towers in Bethesda for their two mile time trial on Saturday morning. Although it was not raining, anyone wearing socks and shoes for the time trial had undoubtedly saturated their socks from warming up on the wet grassy field.

The runners ran on a path around a large grass field. A loop around the field was about a mile and a half, so runners ran around the field one and a half times. For most of the route, runners could choose to run on hard packed dirt or grass. There were no steep hills, but the first quarter mile was slightly uphill. The course alternated downhill and uphill for a quarter mile each until the mile marker. The course flattened out before runners returned to their starting point and continued to the finish half way around the loop.

The girls went first and Anny Ryba and Shayna Barbash quickly established themselves as the leaders. As the two ran into the finish, they both kicked for the top spot. Ryba looked smooth as she changed gears and finished in first in 12:44. Barbash was just behind her by less than a second. About a minute later, a good pack of girls led by Danielle Newsham and including Mariana Robertson, Melanie Stern and Cara Bennett came running in to the finish between 13:56 and 14:12. Whitman lost Alexandra Phillips in the offseason (she moved away), but still has a nice team that will be contending in November.

The boys' team was up next and not only was Andrew Palmer there, special guest Graham Bazell was jumping in on the time trial as well. I was told Bazell just transferred to Whitman, but I think they were pulling my leg (he graduated from Atholton High School last spring). Palmer, Bazell, and Brandt Silver-Korn, with no need to prove their level of fitness, decided they would use the time trial as a workout. Instead of an all-out effort, they did 2 x 2 miles at a hard effort.

Bazell and Palmer ran their first two mile with the rest of the team. They finished in 9:49. Brandt was next on the team at 10:49 followed by Michael Harder who had a fast finish in 11:02. Harder does not run track, but he has been dropping his cross country time since his freshman year and looks like he will be a strong contributor this year. Drew Katz and Steven Goldberg rounded out the top five. Whitman's #4-8 runners finished within 11:24 and 11:29.

After a few minutes of rest, Bazell, Palmer, and Silver-Korn repeated their hard two mile effort. Bazell and Palmer finished in 9:53 and Silver-Korn finished in about 11:15, although I think we decided that Brandt ran an extra part of the trail that made his time a little slower.

Gburg vs. Cburg Time Trial

Gaithersburg and Clarksburg ran the county championship course for a 5k time trial on Thursday. Former Gaithersburg runner Sam Boimov also jumped in the race. Boimov along with Clarksburg's #1 runner Jatin Narang led the race early on. Somewhere before returning back to the school grounds, Boimov gained about a 50 meter lead and finished first. Narang was the first high school finisher in 17:12. Gaithersburg took the next two spots with brothers Shane and Brendan Stepek 18:11 and 18:22 respectively. Both teams showed a lack of depth as Abby Spitler was the next finisher in 19:43. Clarksburg put two more guys through the chute in 19:52. A few more boys trickled in from both teams before Clarksburg's first girl, freshman Abby Dailey, finished in 20:51. Clarksburg got their next two girls in in 22:51 and 23:38. One of their top runners, Lauren Sumner, was not there, so Clarksburg can expect a pretty good girls' team this year. Gaithersburg had little depth on either team, but appeared to have more freshmen on the team than they have had in a while so coach Tolbert hopes he can mold a few of them into strong runners.

Sandy Spring Friends Scrimmage

MoCo schools have been practicing together for over a week, but got its first taste of action today at the annual Sandy Spring Scrimmage. There will be another scrimmage at Sandy Spring Friends School on September 2. If coaches are interested in taking their team, more info can be found here.

The course is not overly difficult, but it has its twists and turns along with rocks and roots on some of the trails to break a runner's momentum. Late in the season with cool October air, the course could be considered a reasonable course for a PR, but as the first race of the preseason in high heat and humidity, times left plenty of room for improvement.

The Good Counsel boys had a favorable race, easily taking the top three spots in the race. Senior Kyle Graves finished alongside one of last year's standout freshmen Jack Riely in 17:00. For Riely, it was 1 second better than his best 5k from his unhealthy freshman cross country season. A healthy season out of Riely may produce good results.

Coming in third for Good Counsel was another strong returning sophomore, Michael Fitzgerald, who appeared to have grown six inches from his freshman year. Fitzgerald's time of 17:52 was about 14 seconds off of his freshman best 5k time. Good Counsel was able to get nine boys in under 20:01.

Not long after Good Counsel packed in their top three, Sherwood packed in their top three with an nineteen second spread. Jackson Reams finished in 17:55, Cole Balderson finished in 18:12, and Kevin Hogan finished in 18:14. Sherwood was able to get one more boy in under 20 minutes and another in right at 20:00.

The Blair boys have been left tattered and torn after graduating a good senior class that made up almost their entire varsity team. That does not take away from they underclassmen who remain to rebuild the team. Seniors are not expected to play a large role in this year's team. Juniors Gabriel Pollack and Jeremy Ardanuy finished shortly after the stopwatch clicked over 20 minutes.

Good Counsel senior Katie Koenig had the best showing on the girls' side. She finished in 21:15, well ahead of any other female finisher. The boys and girls were all combined in one race so it was difficult to track the girls as they came in. I suspect I will be making corrections to this article after publishing it, but the next female finisher may have been a Good Counsel newcomer named Britt in 22:55. Good Counsel did not have much depth after that with times of 24:13, 26:13, and 26:41, but Coach Arnold gave his inexperienced team a good long pep talk after the race about what it takes to become a good cross country team.

The Sherwood girls started flowing in not long after the 22 minute mark and had a bit more depth than Good Counsel. No disrespect to the Sherwood girls, but I was not able to gather all their names and times. Suffice it to say that from what I gather they appear to be a strong candidate to return to the state championship meet this year.

The Blair girls did not lose as much talent to graduation as the boys, but still have some work to do. Juniors Theresa Regan and Jennifer Sholar had times in the 23 minute range (sorry for not getting the exact times). For Sholar especially, the time is a sign for a good improved junior year.


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