Neal Darmody could hardly contain his excitement. While he was still trying to catch his breath after crossing the finish line in 15:08, he was surrounded by family, friends, teammates, coaches and even strangers lining up to pat him on the back and congratulate him. It was without a doubt the greatest race of his young life.
Darmody established his presence in the lead pack early on, but never had complete control of the race. After coming through the mile in 4:41 and the 2 mile mark in 9:50, he still lagged two seconds behind Ben Dejarnette of Atlee High School and Johns Ross of Potomac School. With about a half mile to go, Darmody turned on the jets and took over the lead, challenging the two Virginians to come after him. He built a 2 second lead on Dejarnette who in turn broke Ross in the final quarter mile. Just when it appeared that Darmody had broken away with not more than 200 meters left, Dejarnette surged up to meet Darmody. However, the energy that he used for his surge was mostly used up when the two rounded the final corner. Darmody held the lead by 1 second to win in an unbelievable time of 15:08. Dejarnette was 2nd in 15:09 and Ross was 3rd in 15:19.
It's possible that this region has discovered a new nationally elite runner in Neal Darmody. Having never broken 16 minutes for a cross country 5k prior to this season, Darmody has now finished no slower than 15:43 in each of his last three races. His most recent run of 15:08 is 54 seconds faster than he ran on the same course last year. Today he credited the cool weather and fast opponents for helping him set a personal record by almost 30 seconds.
Also noteworthy in he boys seeded race was David Laratta of Quince Orchard. Laratta finished 10th in 15:43. With his 2nd consecutive finish under 16:00, he makes a case for himself as not only the 2nd best on his team, but possibly the 2nd best in the county. Ever since a sub par performance at the Peter Geraghty Invitational, he has been a rock for the regionally ranked Cougars.
Quince Orchard boys won the meet as expected, but let's look deeper into the results. B-CC boys placed 6th overall with 5 under 17 minutes. An off day by Alex Prevost was compensated for by newcomer Kyle Short who joined the team just this year and has established himself as one of the best in the county by hanging with Dylan Straughan in every race. If people still don't know about him, they will by next week. By smashing a full strength Gaithersburg team but falling to Quince Orchard, the B-CC boys make themselves as good a candidate as any to take the runner up trophy at the county championship.
The Northwest boys also had a great day at Glory Days by winning the Varsity B race. Their fastest runner of the day, however, did not contribute to the win. Chris Miller took a break from varsity running to race in the freshman race. The freshman race at Glory Days is the biggest of its kind in this area every year and winning it is a big deal. Miller won it by 15 seconds in a time of 16:36. Had he run that time in the varsity B race with his teammates, he would have placed 3rd, lowering his team's score from 96 to 48. However, if all 5 ran the same times in seeded race, they would have scored roughly 380 points to finish 15th behind Gaithersburg.
Speaking of freshmen, Britt Eckerstrom of Northwest High School has to be among the best in the nation. She rose above the freshman race to challenge the best runners in Virginia. She was the only Marylander in an all-star pack of 6 girls. She stuck right in the middle of the pack until around 2.5 miles when the older girls began to pull away. Kristen Wolfe won the race in 17:49 followed by 3 more girls who would break 18 minutes. Eckerstrom managed 5th in 18:01, outkicking Megan Fitzpatrick, the Octoberfest champion who beat her a week earlier. Thanks to her efforts and the return of Kathy Aherne, the Northwest girls were able to take 2nd place overall next to powerhouse Lake Braddock.
Abby Spitler of Gaithersburg High School got her rematch against Veronica Salcido in the girls' varsity b race. A pack of Westfield girls initially dominated the early part of the race, but as they faded, Spitler and Salcido moved to the front. In the final mile, Spitler took over the race. She distanced herself from Salcido and Tasia Potasinksi of Westfield. From a distance, it looked like she was kicking from a half mile out. She was able to hold onto that blazing pace for about three minutes as she worked her way uphill to the finish. She crossed the line with a huge PR in 18:57. Potasinski was 2nd in 19:04 and Salcido was 3rd in 19:05.
Wootton finished 3rd in the race without #2 runner Jessie Rubin. Gaithersburg fell to B-CC 18th to 19th. 12 points separated the 2 teams.
Magruder had a good day on both the boys and girls side with top 10 finishes in the varsity b races. Coach Nathan Timm said that the pieces were beginning to come together as the championship season approaches. The highlight for them was Nicolas Escobar of Magruder winning the boys race in a time of 16:25. Emilio Galis followed closely placing 4th in 16:39. One of their top runners from last year, Ian Chasler, returned to varsity action and will have a few weeks to get in shape before regionals. They placed 8th out of 47 teams.
The Magruder girls placed 10th out of 37 teams, well in front of B-CC and Gaithersburg. Courtney Whalen's 8th place finish in 19:35 was very helpful, but their depth appears much better than it has been early this season and a top ten finish at the county championship is looking more and more likely.