Prior to this season, Walter Johnson Head Coach Tom Martin set a goal to get his entire varsity top seven girls under 20:00. The season started
a little rocky and by mid-season he believed he needed to re-adjust those goals to be more realistic. At Monday's county championship meet,
his girls team blew him away with six girls under 19:30 and a seventh right at 20:03 (most years there aren't ten girls total in the county
championship meet under 19:30).
"They stepped up big today," said Martin after his girls scored 48 points to win the team title.
All of WJ's top seven girls started the race aggressively, something that Martin said he had not seen all season - certainly not at Oatlands or
any of the early season dual meets. To no one's surprise, Abigail Green and Emily Murphy ran out front from the start, but the supporting cast
of Jasmine Garrett, Katriane Kirsch, Sadie Keller, Janet Scott, and Sophie Scobell were all in the top twenty in the early going.
"Actually I was a little worried they went out a little too aggressively because they had not been doing that all season," said Martin. "When I
saw my normal 5, 6, 7 way up there, I thought, 'they're outracing themselves,' but they hung on tough and really had an outstanding day."
"The heroes were Sadie and Janet and even Sophie, who ran number seven, came up big. That was a big giant step for her. That puts us in a good
position. We've got three, actually four girls who could be that four-five combination that's going to make the difference."
Abigail Green's wire-to-wire victory which resulted in a course record in 18:04.8
demonstrated a racing maturity and strength beyond her years, but according to Martin, she's still figuring things out.
"As a sophomore, she still hasn't come into her own from the mental aspects of this sport. She doesn't know how fast she is. When she does,
it's going to be amazing."
The other frontrunner on Monday was Rohann Asfaw of Richard Montgomery High School who had a lot of company for the first mile but broke things
open during the second mile en route to his decisive 15 second victory in 15:34.9. According to Richard Montgomery head coach Davy Rogers,
Asfaw wanted to run from the front and use downhills to separate from the pack.
"He does really well running from the front. He's very relaxed. He's just a natural
frontrunner," Rogers said of Asfaw who is now the first cross country county champion from Richard Montgomery since 1995 when Rogers was on the
"His race strategy was really to take advantage of the downhills because you don't really get too many on this course...he just absolutely
buried this hill and I think he gained a little bit of ground there the first time going around [referring to the downhill along the entrance
road in the direction of Route 355 just beyond the one mile mark]."
Providing even more insight into Asfaw, Rogers continued, "I've never had somebody who is so committed to the sport. Everything he does is
based on running...he's doing everything he's supposed to be doing to make a run for the state championship."
While the Walter Johnson girls team won their 8th county title in school history and second in a row, Wootton High School celebrated its first
county title in school history with a very nonchalant demeanor.
"We went in with the approach today that this is business as usual," said Wootton head coach Kellie Redmond. "We weren't making this anything
other than a cross country race where we run our best. They pulled it together and we couldn't be happier."
With three runners in the top ten and five in the top 35, it was a great team effort, but far from a comfortable blowout when both B-CC and
Churchill put their #5 runners in front of Wootton's #5. Wootton won with 73 points to B-CC's 94.
"As a coach it's nerveracking," said Redmond. "You're on the outskirts. You can't do the work. You're watching the first mile and you're
thinking, 'wow, this is going to be really competitive.' And you are counting teams, but I just kept reminding myself that it's a 5k race. Our
boys know that they have to run like we've been running and they're not going to panic and they are going to do their job and they did. I could
not have designed a better outcome. I was very pleased with all of their performances."
The date for the Montgomery County XC Championship Meet was selected almost a year ago, but six days prior to the planned date, notice went out
that a scheduling conflict would cause the meet to move from Saturday, October 24 to Monday, October 26. The Bohrer Park Activity Center,
Gaithersburg High School, and all of the associated parking lots were reserved for other functions. Exactly when and how the communication
breakdown occurred is for the bureaucrats. The important thing is that the show went on.
It's not unprecedented for the Montgomery County Championship to be on a weekday. In fact, prior to 2001, the county championship meet was
always on a weekday (usually Thursday or Friday). There was also a time when there were only two junior varsity races, but in 2001 that all
began to change when the meet moved to Saturday to enhance the championship feel of the meet and spread out the races a little bit. Meet
management has every intention of keeping the meet on Saturday, but there is one advantage to an afternoon meet: no dew.
Crisp air, sunshine, no wind, no dew and little rain in the past few weeks led to fast times and PR's all around. In the case of the girls
varsity race, it led to a course record by Walter Johnson's Abigail Green, seven girls under 19:00 and an unprecedented 28 girls under 20:00.
In the boys race it led to five boys under 16:00 and 37 boys under 17:00 which had not happened on this course since it was modified due to
school construction in 2011.