The last time Chris Miller raced at the Peter Geraghty Invitational, he won the junior varsity race as a freshman. It was the last junior varsity race he ever ran. Now as a senior and the top returning runner from last year's county championship meet, he put fifteen seconds between himself and the next Montgomery County runner but also came up seventeen seconds short of beating Loyola's Matt Jablonski.
Jablonski was recently ranked as the #22 high school runner in the nation in the
Dyestaaa...ESPN Rise preseason rankings. Miller did not know this before the race and of course did his best to chase after him. He came through the first mile in about 4:45 and had already fallen behind Jablonski and distanced himself from the rest of the pack. He became worried at that point that he may have gone out too fast and the pack would catch up to him. His only company was the golf cart kicking up dust in front of him. He continued to push himself in no-man's-land for the second half of the race and finished second in a personal best 16:01.22.
Jablonski won the race in 15:44.46 and Loyola won the meet with 76 points followed by Good Counsel with 87 and Quince Orchard with 102.
Good Counsel coach, Tom Arnold, who has said that they always try to win every meet, was not particularly happy with the second place finish despite notable improvements by the runners since last year.
"I always think in terms of what we could do," Arnold explained.
Michael Fitzgerald in particular had a great race in finishing fourth in 16:20, and the freshman Colin Crilly debuted with a 17:00.97 19th place finish. However, a great team performance was blemished by John Lynagh not being able to finish the race. In his first season of cross country, Lynagh has typically completed all of the team workouts with the top three guys on the team, but his legs gave out in the last half mile and medical attention was required.
While Arnold was reserved in his observations after the race, Coach Seann Pelkey of Quince Orchard was running around high-fiving all of his guys. Conor Spaulding and Evan Laratta had great races, taking third and fifth respectively, but who imagined Drew Lehner would be so strong in his cross country debut? He ran a 4:52 mile last year and now ran 16:41 for ninth place in his first official cross country 5k. After placing three runners in the top ten, Jamie Ryan and Michael Borton rounded out the top five with times in the mid-17's.
The Northwest girls had a similar situation to the Good Counsel boys. While running in good position near teammates Kai Santangelo, Christine DiNardo, and Sarah Sekscienski, talented new freshman Zoe Kaplan collapsed as she approached the finish line. She did not finish and required medical attention. It would not have made the difference in taking down the strong Bishop O'Connell team which won with 53 points, but it allowed Whitman to sneak in and take second place ahead of Northwest 101 to 105.
If she can finish with the pack of Santangelo, DiNardo, and Sekscienski, Kaplan is going to make Northwest even stronger than anticipated. More good news came recently when they learned that Sula Ndousse-Fetter does not have a stress fracture so we will most likely see her rejoin the team before too long.
The Whitman girls were excited about their second place finish and perhaps a little surprised that they beat out Northwest.
Said Coach Steve Hays, "I really don't know how good this team can be this year."
Led by Anna Ryba's second place finish, Whitman put five girls in the top fifty.
Ryba said that she began pulling away from the pack along with Century's Maura Linde and Bishop O'Connell's Sarah McCarthy after a fast first mile. As a group of three they fought the wind on the lonely mid-section of the course. Although Linde got away and won the race in 18:52, Ryba outkicked McCarthy to finish second in 19:04.12. According to results in the Mocorunning database, it was a personal best 5k time by eight seconds.
Ryba said that she was disappointed with last cross country season (she did not run at the state championship) but put in the work this summer and is aiming for the state title. She will not have to worry about Linde who is in the 2A classification.
The beginning of the season is always full of surprises and perhaps the biggest surprise of the meet was seeing a Blair athlete running with the front pack of girls. It has been a few years since Blair has had a strong #1 female runner. Morgana D'Ottavi is a freshman who has done some running in the past in middle school, but she seemed to be as surprised as everyone else with her 8th place finish in 20:09.37. Doing a little research, she ran a 19:51 5k, 34:54 8k, and 1:13:26 10-miler last year as a 13 year old. Look out, MoCo!