Between the Magruder Invitational and all the dual meets, we have seen just about every combination of head to head matchups between Montgomery County girls this season. It was not until the Georgetown Prep Invitational just one week before the Montgomery County Championship Meet that fans saw perhaps the most anticipated match up of all: defending cross country state champion Anna Bosse of Walter Johnson against 3200-meter state champion Jessie Rubin of Wootton.
Bosse won an early season meet at the Howard County Invitational and has been running fast times on courses from Virginia to Pennsylvania to New York City. Wootton has stayed local this season, allowing Rubin to get victories in four dual meets and at the Magruder Invitational against most of the top county girls. Despite a strong field of girls entered in the seeded race, it is no surprise that Bosse and Rubin found each other early and raced out front from start to finish.
The meeting between the two was held under far from normal circumstances. The temperature hovered in the mid-40's and rain steadily fell throughout the meet. Thin grass sections of the course turned into inches-thick mud, particularly on hilly stretches and sharp turns where runners' spikes were digging deepest to grip the ground. The conditions of the course worsened with every race so much so that the final junior varsity races were canceled by the middle of the meet.
After two freshman races and the boys seeded varsity race, Bosse and Rubin tackled the torn up cross country course. Before they even hit the mucked up hills, someone stepped on the back of Rubin's left shoe. With her heel popping out, she kicked the shoe to the side and ran about 3 miles of the 5k race with just her right shoe.
Bosse led for nearly the entire race with Rubin hanging close. With a half mile to go and the muddiest portions of the course behind her, she tried to distance herself from Rubin for good. Rubin noticed the gap opening but did not want to give up. She felt that she still had more energy in her and closed the gap. Coming down the final straightaway into the finish, she passed Bosse just in time to get the win.
The meet program declared that a new course was used this year and therefore the winning time would set a new course record. Rubin's course record time of 20:40 may not last for very many years considering the course could not have been in a more treacherous condition than it was this year, but the memory of the grueling battle against the elements and the slip 'n slide hills will not be soon forgotten.
Although Bosse took second place in 20:41, she led her team to another strong showing. The Walter Johnson girls took second place behind West Potomac from Virginia. WJ's fifth runner Maria Moersen has been closing the gap between herself and the #4 runner Jennifer Spencer. With a good day at the county championship meet next Saturday, Walter Johnson is a very dangerous threat to challenge for the county title.
DeMatha's Cory Puffett did not have to fight anyone for the path with the best footing because he took a large lead from the very beginning and was never challenged. He remains unbeaten by local opponents this year (his only loss this year came against a North Carolina runner). His time of 16:45, like Rubin's, is a new course record in this first year of running this course.
The Walter Johnson boys returned to top form in defeating Gonzaga and St. Albans with 78 points. This came two weeks after a disappointing fourth place performance at the Octoberfest Invitational where Gonzaga finished ahead of them in third. Alex Willett led the team with a fourth place finish just three seconds out of second place. Josh Ellis had his best race for the team, running third on the team for most of the race before Nicholas Regan outkicked him in the final meters of the race.
I have been guilty of crediting Gonzaga as the best team in Washington, DC without giving St. Albans much consideration early in the season. St. Albans has been making a statement the last several weeks with wins at Woodberry Forest, Mercersburg, Salesianum and most recently Glory Days. As luck would have it, St. Albans and Gonzaga scored the same point total when they finally met at Georgetown Prep. Gonzaga won with the sixth man tie-breaker. Gonzaga will be considered the favorite to win the WCAC and St. Albans will be considered the favorite to win the IAC before the two teams meet again at the Maryland & Washington DC Private Schools Championship Meet.
In the unseeded varsity boys race, Jackson Reams of Sherwood won in 17:59 (the condition of the course had greatly deteriorated by that point. The Damascus boys packed their top five runners between 18:38 and 19:33 to take first with 79 points.