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Glory Days Invitational Recap
By: Kevin Milsted

Three weeks ago, Coach Tom Arnold described Jack Wavering's race at the Oatlands Invitational as a "symphony" of a race and the best performance ever by an athlete under his tutelage. Today's Glory Days Invitational runner-up effort by Wavering was just as good or better according to Arnold.

Wavering got out aggressively and raced among the top ten from the beginning. Millbrook's Tyler Cox-Philyaw and Dulaney's Eric Walz got out hard and strung out the crowd of 200+ runners from the start. Wavering held steady at the head of a crowd of at least a half dozen runners jostling for rank in third position. Arnold said that he was happy to see Wavering not get caught up in "the furor."

About midway through the race was an extended incline. That incline does not compare to the steepness of hills at courses like Oatlands and Hereford, but there was a stretch of the race in which the runners go uphill for several minutes without relief. That was the point where those caught up in "the furor" got a punch in the gut.

The two mile mark was about 200 meters beyond the top of that extended incline and that is where Jack Wavering said that the race began to change for him. With Cox-Philyaw still seemingly out of reach, Wavering made a move on the tired runners surrounding him.

"Once we started two miles, I started to separate from the group," said Wavering. "I knew I didn't have as good of a kick as those other guys."

What was his strategy as he pulled away?

"I had my eyes focused between [Cox-Philyaw's] shoulder blades," said Wavering.

While Wavering said that he was focused on holding onto second position, the gap was closing between himself and Cox-Philyaw for the entire final mile. He said that he had no clue how much he was separating from the group of runners battling for third place. As far as he knew, multiple runners were sitting right behind him waiting to outkick him at the finish.

With all due respect to Mr. Wavering, this writer thinks he is underselling his kick. The finish at Glory Days is one of the most challenging finishes you will see in the DC area with multiple turns on an incline in the final one-eighth mile. Wavering handled it as well as anyone all day. In the end, it was Cox-Philyaw who needed to dial up top speed to hold off Wavering in the final stretch, 15:49 to 15:52. Dulaney's Eric Walz finished seven seconds back as the only other runner under 16:00.

The Good Counsel boys team placed third behind Lake Braddock (2nd) and Dulaney (1st).

Shortly following the race, Coach Arnold walked up to the posted results, quickly absorbed what he saw, and walked away with a fist pump.

The normally difficult to please Arnold was thrilled with his boys team performance and lauded each and every one of his runners.

"Our guys I think executed about as perfectly as they could," he said. "They got out like they should have, fought like hell, and you can't ask for more than that."

"Coming in we thought Dulaney was too good," he continued. "We didn't know enough about Lake Braddock. We don't know if Thomas Jefferson and Severna Park were full strength. Our #1 goal was to beat every team that beat us at Oatlands and we did that."

Of course one of the biggest differences between Oatlands and Glory Days for Good Counsel was the return of Kevin McGivern who had a top 30 finish today for Good Counsel.

Good Counsel's star female runner, Claudia Wendt, sat out with a hip injury which is not believed to be serious. Wendt will miss the WCAC Championship Meet in two weeks due to pre-arranged travel plans.

The Bethesda Chevy Chase girls finished 3rd out of 33 teams. Behind Virginia powerhouses Lake Braddock and James Madison, B-CC was the top Maryland team, beating out fourth place Dulaney. Even down one of their normal top five runners (Abigail Levine), B-CC had one of the strongest #5 runners in the race (Anaiah Little-Diop). Virginia Brown (13th, 19:14) and Zoe Nuechterlein (16th, 19:20) were the top Montgomery County finishers.

"That's two invitationals in a row that they really stepped up," said B-CC head coach Chad Young referring to his varsity girls.

"Honestly, at Bull Run we thought we were third or fourth [they won the elite race at the Bull Run Invitational at Hereford]. This team has come together quicker than I expected."

After losing such a great senior class last year, how has B-CC managed to stay highly competitive? The transfer of Michaela Peterson (45th, 20:03) gives the team an obvious boost. Freshman Virginia Brown and junior Zoe Nuechterlein are perhaps the two biggest reasons the transition has seemed so smooth.

"Zoe has been healthy for a full year which makes a difference. Last cross country season she was still putting it together [after a freshman year injury]. She was just below the line on a really good team. She ran a 5:20 mile and was overshadowed by a lot of runners."

Coach Young added that Nuechterlein has been a great leader and captain for the team.

Young spotted Virginia Brown out of a crowd of middle school runners last year and was hopeful that someday she could be a varsity runner at B-CC. He couldn't conceive that she would be a varsity runner right away or that she could actually lead the team as a freshman, but that's exactly what she did today with a blazing time of 19:14.

Surely many fans will consider Brown a likely candidate for a top ten spot at the upcoming county championship meet. Coach Young knows a thing or two about developing talented freshmen.

"The key now is not to overdo things so she can stay strong for a really long time."

Young also mentioned that he was proud of his boys team which placed 9th in the varsity A race.

Julia Reicin of Churchill won the girls varsity B race in 19:35, the third fastest time of the day among Montgomery County runners.


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