It was like he was fulfilling his destiny. Chris Miller was so good as a freshman (11th in the state) and he always believed that he could be a state champion. Running up the dip for the final time in second place, he reminded himself that this was senior year and this was his last chance to get it.
Miller and WJ's Nick Regan had broken away from the field by the two mile mark, but Miller admitted that the first run up the dip really sapped his strength. Regan began to pull away in the third mile, but after the second time up the dip, Miller said he could see Regan coming back to him. Reminiscent of this year's Bull Run Invitational in which Regan was first to ascend the dip in the final mile, Regan disappeared into an unseen leg of the course with Miller hot on his heels. After a suspenseful 60 second wait, Miller emerged onto the final flat with a lead. He was seemingly gaining speed and finished in 16:09. It was the second fastest time ever run by a Montgomery County athlete at the state championship at Hereford (only course record-holder Solomon Haile was faster).
As for Regan's time of 16:13, it was the third fastest time ever run by a Montgomery County athlete at the state championship at Hereford. He had the added consolation of leading his team to its third consecutive 4A state title. WJ won with 74 points in a close race over Winston Churchill which had 86 points.
Coach Tom Martin explained that they were fortunate to beat Churchill who had a great race in his eyes. When asked about a four-peat next year, he said they have a lot of work to do first. Let the year-long debating begin. WJ returns four of its top seven while Churchill returns five of its top seven including its top two. Skim a little further down the results and take notice that fourth place Chesapeake returns six of its top seven.
In my girls pre-meet predictions, I offered that the gap between Whitman's fourth and fifth runner might sting them if too many runners fill in the space. Whitman's top three runners were too good for that to even matter. Anna Ryba, Alexandra Phillips, and Caroline Guiot finished in the top seven among scoring runners and helped their team claim its first team title since Whitman won three consecutive 4A titles in 1990, 1991, and 1992. None of the girls on the current team were born in 1992. It was also the first 4A state title by a Montgomery County girls team since QO won in 2001. It had been quite a dry spell for MoCo!
An additional tidbit is that all of the top three Whitman girls were standouts as freshman, but none ran at last year's state championship. Ryba and Guiot were injured while Phillips was in France.
The Northwest girls kept the race close and like at the regional meet, placed five runners in before Whitman. Their point total of 84 was too high to beat Whitman, but they defeated Severna Park by 20 points. Many said Severna Park was the heavy favorite all season.
After a slow start for Anna Bosse, Bosse caught up to Ryba after the first mile, but she says that she lost her the first time down the dip. After that, Ryba ran the final half of the race by herself. She won in 19:16. It was the fastest time by a Montgomery County runner at the state championship at Hereford since Karen Pulliam of Quince Orchard set the course record at 18:51 in 2000. Bosse was ok with her second-place time of 19:39, explaining that it was almost the same as her state-winning time in 2008.
There was a bit of an upset in the girls 3A race. Hereford freshman Erin Causey blew away the field to win by 18 seconds in 19:59. Clarksburg's Abbey Daley was lost somewhere around 5th or 6th in the chase pack climbing the final hill, but as she has done in four races now at Hereford (two Bull Run Invitationals and two state meets), she owned the competition on the final little hill out-of-site of the spectators in the last quarter mile. She outkicked her competition to finish in 20:17 and repeat her second place finish from a year ago.
The Hereford boys and girls both won 3A team titles with impressive point totals of 63 and 48 respectively. The top 3A story from a Montgomery County perspective is Einstein's second place finish, just five points ahead of 3A West champions Quince Orchard. While Quince Orchard's top three finished before Einstein's number one runner, Einstein quickly put four runners through the finish in a span of 13 seconds in places 17, 18, 20, and 27. After what seemed like an eternity (in reality only 32 seconds), Einstein's Mickey Hagos sealed up the team score at 133 points. It was Einstein's top team finish since 1985. In just 2007, when Andrew Ceruzzi was a goofy freshman, Einstein qualified for the state championship for the first time in 17 years. Three years later, Ceruzzi led the team to a runner-up finish at the state meet (I guess technically Nick Simpson caught Ceruzzi at the finish line). Next year Einstein returns four of its top six runners.
After the morning races, I booked it to the private schools state meet, but from the results I'll mention that Eric Holmstead led the Poolesville boys to sixth place in the 2A race. Holmstead placed fifth in 17:03. Poolesville freshman Chelsie Pennello finished 13th in 21:25.
The boys varsity race at the private schools championship was a two person race by the first mile. John McGowan of Sidwell Friends and Matt Jablonski of Loyola-Blakefield were racing neck-and-neck up front for most of the first half of the race. The two clocked a fast first mile of about 4:50. Somewhere in the back section of the course, McGowan broke away from Jablonski, building at least a ten second lead by the creek crossing. McGowan continued to build his lead and cruised to victory in 15:19, 25 seconds ahead of Jablonski. Collin Leibold and Mike Crozier took third and fourth place in sub-16 efforts to lead Gonzaga to the team title.
In the race within the race, Greg Hadley was the first small school finisher in 16:25. With the help of freshman brother Alex Hadley, The Heights won the small schools title with 44 points over St. Andrew's Episcopal.
In the girls race, Elizabeth Tauber from John Carroll was all alone by the first mile marker. Nobody was within 15 seconds of her. She won the private schools girls race by 52 seconds with a time of 18:42. It was her third consecutive victory at this meet after placing fifth in her freshman year.
Georgetown Visitation won the large schools girls team title while St. Andrew's Episcopal won the small schools title.