A year after Footlocker National Champion Solomon Haile won his first major cross country race in the DC area, Jackson Reams of Sherwood High School returned to the Oatlands Invitational looking for a modest top 25 finish. He finished 133rd in 18:02 a year ago as a sophomore, but he has been a star slowly rising since late last cross country season.
He lowered his cross country times down to the low 17's and got his 3200 meter time down to 9:52 as a sophomore to establish himself as one of the county's top returning runners this year. After a month off in June and a summer that built up to 50 mile weeks with long runs of 10 or 11 miles, he burst onto the scene with a 40 second PR (16:29.20) at the Magruder Invitational.
He partially credits his former teammate for his improvement, saying that Haile is one of the most inspirational people he's ever encountered in his life. Solomon always encouraged him and everyone else on the team. Reams and Haile keep in touch even though Haile is now competing for the University of Arkansas.
In the week leading up to the Oatlands Invitational, he had a matchup against a tough Churchill boys team on a challenging course. He won the race in 17:20, but he says it took a lot out of him and he didn't know what to expect at Oatlands.
Hoping for a top 25 finish at Oatlands, he started out fast. A mile into the race, he found himself in the top ten. He decided to try to hold onto his position and "not do anything stupid."
His seventh place finish in 16:17 came as a surprise to him given the difficulty of the course and the dual meet race earlier in the week. It was not quite a Solomon Haile performance, but it was better than former "Virginia triple-crown" winner Kyle Balderson ever ran on the course.
Jessie Rubin of Wootton High School finished sixth in 19:05. She was coming off a fast race on Tuesday at Gaithersburg where she posted the fastest time of the year by a county athlete (18:58). The competition at Oatlands featured two Washington Post All-Mets and several more talented girls from Virginia that she was not used to racing against. She held back behind the leaders for the first mile, but still came through in a quick 5:40. She fought through the creek crossing and the backwoods second mile of the course to pass a few runners. Overall she was satisfied with her performance.
Finishing in 18th place, nearly 30 seconds back was Northwest's Alyssa Henshaw. She ran a season best time of 19:33, over 30 seconds faster than she ran on the same course last year. She was coming off a big win in a tri meet over Walter Johnson and Whitman. Her performance at tri meet and Oatlands shows that her race at the Magruder Invitational was flukie and she's ready to be one of the top runners in the county this year. She and Britt Eckerstrom (19:52, 27th) led their full strength team to fifth place overall. Northwest's top seven girls were under 22 minutes.
Northwest's boys team had success as well. In the varsity B race, Chris Miller placed fourth in 16:56. He thought it was a pretty good performance after being sick the last few days. He also had a big race against Walter Johnson and Whitman three days earlier where he placed second in 17:23 with a hard finish. He said that he was kind of sick for the few days following. He admitted he thought his time at Oatlands would be a little faster, but all things considered he wasn't upset. Between 17:25 and 17:40, Northwest did something they haven't done in a long time. They packed four runners through the finish in fifteen seconds. Jacob Brennan (17:28, 16th, pictured right) is running cross country for the first time which gives Northwest a big unexpected boost. If the pack moves up they could be as good or better than last year's underachieving team.
The Good Counsel boys had a strong fourth place team showing in the varsity 'A' race led by Kyle Graves (16:28, 11th). A big PR out of James Henricksen (17:13, 48th) gave them a big boost.
Bull Run Invitational
Clarksburg freshman Abbey Daley won her first major invitational race with a time of 20:21 in the medium school race. Quince Orchard Stephanie Joson beat out Gaithersburg's Abby Spitler in the large school race 20:22 to 20:31. B-CC sophomore Ava Farrell showed once again that she is one of this year's most improved runners with her 6th place 20:23 finish in the elite race.
Jack Strabo of Landon competed individually and finished with the only sub-17 county time of the day (16:59, 6th). It was his first attempt at the course and his time would have tied him for fifth place in the 4A race at the state meet last year.
The second best performance of the day came from Poolesville's Eric Holmstead (17:15, 3rd) who led his team to victory in the small school race. Poolesville showed that they are going to be a force in the 2A classification, although it should be noted that second place Winters Mill did not have their #1 runner.
While Poolesville showed its strength as a small school, Richard Montgomery showed its strength as a big school finishing fifth in the elite race.
Maymont Cross Country Festival
Andrew Palmer was unable to compete in his first big race due to illness. As a result, the Whitman boys finished 16th out of 18 teams. The girls were also missing a few runners and finished 15th out of 15 teams. Anna Ryba had a strong race, finishing 24th in 19:34.
WCAC fans saw Cory Puffett lose his first race of the year to Blake Williams, a runner from North Carolina, by 1 second. Puffett did defeat conference adversary Petros Welday by 28 seconds with a time of 15:33. He now has two convincing wins over Gonzaga's Billy Ledder and another over Welday. Photo by Dave Watt.
In the ISL, Anneka Wilson placed second in the private school championship race with a time of 19:40. Potomac placed third as a team while St. Andrew's Episcopal placed 8th.
The Churchill boys finish fifth against many of Pennsylvania's strongest teams. Sophomore Zach Weinstein (16:22, 19th) finished as the team's top runner, followed closely by Tarek Elhage (16:26, 21st). The Churchill girls came away with 14th place. Maryam Fikri finished 7th in 19:15 while Alex Giedd finished 11th in 19:20.
AJ Everhart Invitational
Results have still not come in from Uniontown, PA, but Walter Johnson fan and grandmother Priscilla Prunella provides the following recap and photos:
The course is pretty challenging but not excessively hilly. The race is named for a long time coach of the Uniontown High School. It's held on the Penn State-Fayette campus. Interestingly enough PS does not have a Cross Country team but they let Uniontown use their campus.
Although it is a big meet it has a small town feel. The course is a double loop. It starts out on a baseball field and immediately goes up a hill. It then winds around a fairly flatt grassy area and comes back down and around the baseball field, which the runners do twice. The other loop is through a goldenrod up and down field, the kicker on this loop is about 1/2 mile hill, which they do twice. The finish which comes immediately after the second time they do the 1/2 mile hill is another hill and then a downhill.
It was raining and very windy about the same weather we had for Hoco, but colder. Both the WJ boys and girls won. Alex Willet led the boys and set a course record. The boys came in came in 1-2-3 (Alex, Sean and Ishan). All 5 boys were in the top 10. In the girl's race Anna was second to the defending champion ( a local) who also set a course record. Jenna was 4th, Camille 5th, and Jennifer 10th. Erin Fisher won the JV girl's race.
The kids were in good spirits. The trophies, medals and sweat shirts (to the varsity winning teams) helped warm them. The WJ team went water rafting after that!
St. Andrew's Episcopal edged out Landon by 4 points, 34-38. Tom Belikove beat Greg Hadley of The Heights by 7 seconds to win in 17:42.72. Stone Ridge won the girls race 26-30 over St. Stephens and St. Agnes. Stone Ridge's Diana Pressel won the race in 21:58.17. Photo by David Brandt.
John McGowan of Sidwell Friends had a great performance, winning the race in 15:54. Tom Harrison of St. Albans finished third in 15:59. St. Albans also took 5th, 6th and 7th places with Jamies Durling, Alex Snowdon, and JB Adams all under 16:40. Needless to say, St. Albans won.
Episcopal was the top ISL team, taking third place with 99 points ahead of fourth place National Cathedral with 109. Marissa Repka of Sidwell Friends was the top ISL finisher with a third place time of 19:55.5.