While cooling off in a river bed with teammate David Levine and Good Counsel's Collin Crilly, a thought popped into Joshua Trzeciak's head.
I am going to drink this river water.
17.5 miles into the only unescorted long run of the week at the Concord Running Camp, Trzeciak was possibly regretting the decision to tack on an extra four miles after he had already doubled his previous longest run of the summer of 8 miles. It would be a 20 mile run and the last 2.5 miles uphill were going to be hell.
They didn't do it necessarily because they thought it was beneficial to their training, but as Levine explains, "Everything is mentally easier after running 20 miles."
Despite drinking river water, Trzeciak was alive and chipper two weeks later for team practice at Lake Needwood.
"I just want to have a lot of fun this year. I don't have a personal goal honestly. I want to bring the team together."
Levine echoed this sentiment.
"We were too bold last year. We want to be more low key, try to close the gaps, and be a cohesive unit. The rest of the county doesn't know a lot of our guys on the cusp of breaking into the top group"
A day earlier, Wootton had a two mile time trial where Levine and Trzeciak finished ahead of the rest of the team. The team will be focused on closing that gap between #2 and 3.
As for the Wootton girls team, Coach Kellie Redmond says that we can expect to see more of the same shuffling that we saw last year. Kirsten Schroeder won the girls' time trial by a sizable distance, but the order of the top seven will likely change from race to race due to the similarity in talent.
Wootton was one of four MCPS cross country teams practicing at Lake Needwood this Saturday morning. Sherwood, Magruder, and Blake all had the same idea and I am told that Rockville High School was practicing farther down the hiker-biker trail. As Wootton runners completed their assigned 40, 50 or 60 minute out-and-back runs, I spied on some of the other team practices.
Sherwood did a hill workout in the northwest corner of Lake Needwood. The hilly trails were like three prongs that the runners alternated through continuously, resting at the downhills but not stopping for almost 40 minutes according to Coach Ron McGaw.
Sherwood may not have a runaway stud on the boys' side, but McGaw and Coach Dan Reeks described their boys team as a solid, tough, experienced pack. The girls team, they said, is deeper than it has been for several years. We should expect a few freshmen to put pressure on the upperclassmen for varsity spots.
Magruder Coach Nathan Timm assigned 4, 7, or 10 miles to his runners following a 3/4 mile warmup.
With five senior varsity boys returning this season, the attitude is very different from what Barry Liang described as a "devastating" 2011 season.
"It took until the end of the season before we realized there was no one else to lead the team," Liang said.
The junior-laden squad was "called up a year early," Timm said, borrowing a baseball term. "They know they didn't do what they needed to do. They learned the hard way."
Timm pointed out Mara Erb and Abigail Triau as the girls who will be competitive on the varsity level after Magruder graduated four of its top five from last year.
"The girls are young. They get along and work hard. It will take to the end of the season before they put it together."