Over the two and a half weeks I visited several Montgomery County teams as they prepared for the 2011 cross country season. I described the workout for the day and my general impressions of the team. I also threw in a few personal notes about myself because I like to approach this blog-style piece casually while getting fans excited for the new season.
August 13, 2011
I've been to opening day practice at Northwest before. It was like watching a well-oiled machine that is never turned off. Seniors set the example and led underclassmen in warm-ups and drills. Newcomers blended into the crowd, faces unknown to me at that time; history told me there would be a diamond-in-the-rough that I would be talking about later in the season. Coach Beth Muehl didn't need to say much, but when she addressed the group, the athletes listened and obeyed. She introduced herself to the group, but it was only a formality. Any newcomer on the team had likely heard all about Coach Muehl before joining the team. When a newcomer introduced himself, she would almost immediately memorize his name, showing the same level of respect to the individual that she demanded from him.
Such is the program that Beth Muehl wanted to leave behind. Thirteen years ago she became a high school coach to establish a program that would make her former high school coach proud. In the way that he had changed her life, she wanted to "pay it forward" and have the same impact on the lives of kids.
She never wanted to be Joe Paterno. In other words, she knew from the beginning that she would not be a coach for life. After becoming the first Montgomery County coach to win girls' state titles in indoor and outdoor track, and while ascending Mount Kilimanjaro on summer vacation, she decided that it was time to move on.
This year's opening day at Northwest High School was different. It was different, but it was the same. Standing in front of a crowd of athletes, veteran head coach Steve Bettis introduced himself as their new leader. He expressed his desire to keep the strong Northwest tradition alive and thriving. Athletes were silent, attentive, and receptive.
Cross country is a competitive sport.
You will be on time and you will work hard.
Nobody runs alone.
Coaches all over the state were telling athletes the same things.
Dave and Lexi Knight are the new cross country assistants. Lexi Knight will be the head indoor and outdoor track coach. Dave Knight explained to the athletes that many things will remain unchanged, but many things will be different. Bettis and Muehl undoubtedly have different styles, but they both achieved similar success among the highly competitive Montgomery County schools. They were very fortunate to have Steve as their new coach.
"Fortunate" was a word also used by Northwest Athletic Director Jim Tapley who was faced with a coaching vacancy just weeks before the start of the preseason. Muehl had endorsed Bettis as the next coach, and according to Bettis, the interview and hiring process happened very rapidly.
The reason as to why Bettis was available after ten successful years coaching the Churchill cross country program?
Bettis simply says that he was replaced and it was not his decision.
It was 70 degrees and overcast with a slight threat of rain. After a mile warmup, newcomers ran Northwest's 5k home course. Experienced runners ran the course twice at an easy pace. Most of the athletes fell into the "experienced" category and showed the newcomers the way. The well-oiled machine keeps on turning.
Two-a-days will be on Monday and Wednesday. Runners have a little over a week to prepare for the first time trial before Bettis finds out where his team's baseline is. Northwest graduated an outstanding group of seniors last spring (male and female). Speaking on behalf of the boys' team, junior Eduardo Alfaro said, "We at least want to make it back to states."
August 15, 2011
The Good Counsel boys should be a very good team this year, possibly even the best team in Maryland. They return nine of their top ten runners including seven runners on Mocorunning's preseason list of ranked runners in Montgomery County. On paper, their lineup looks deadly.
I was privileged to sit in on the team's goal-setting sessions. The first was a private session in a classroom with only varsity boys. Later the girls team, all nine of them, had a similar meeting, and a third session consisted of junior varsity boys.
Coach Tom Arnold, now in his 29th year as a high school cross country coach, pulled up the team's 3200m time trial results on a projector. He broke down splits and compared this year's team to teams of the past. Team goals were written with dry erase marker on the board.
With time trial results and team goals staring each boy in the face, Arnold asked a simple question: how would they accomplish their goals?
Sitting in the room was a team nearly identical to last year's team, which in itself does not guarantee success. The question was not meant to be answered immediately but served as a challenge. It was a challenge to each boy's commitment, work ethic, and leadership. Did they want to work harder to achieve their goals? If so, what does it mean to work harder? To avoid accepting the status quo, each boy needed to be self-motivated just like the athletes who attend the prestigious cross country programs in the United States: The Woodlands Texas, York Illinois, etc. Would someone (or everyone) on the team take the initiative to pull the team together and lift it up to a new level?
The girls' meeting took on a lighter tone. It began with a headcount. Nine girls were in the room. One was missing. The first order of business was to grow the team. Arnold was doing his part to scoop up the cuts from the soccer team. Each girl was asked to do some recruiting.
While the headcount was low, the time trial results were promising compared to the last few years. Like the boys, the girls were runners up at the WCAC Championship and return four of their top five runners. Arnold urged the team not to accept mediocrity. He asked that each girl take the sport seriously, train hard in practice and stay focused all race long, all season long.
While these meetings were going on inside the school, the other athletes were outside on the track doing form drills and core work. It was the second practice of the day and there would be almost no running. There had been a 3200-meter time trial in the morning followed by 30 minutes of light running.
Hurdle and iron cross drills had athletes swinging and kicking legs, working on hips and other muscles. Crunches, supermans, back flexors, lateral planks, supine planks, and "fire hydrants" were all interspersed with 30 seconds of pushups. All together, this workout took over an hour. The workout was capped off with the only running of the evening: two laps easy, followed by about four laps of jogging the turns and striding the straight-aways.
August 16, 2011
B-CC has one of my favorite football/track stadiums in the county. It is cut into a natural hill with a tall solid wall holding back the soil along much of the track's perimeter. The old brick school appears taller than it is from the 50 yard line. The top of the towers of downtown Bethesda can be made out in the distance.
On the soft natural grass of the football field, the upperclassmen of the B-CC cross country team circled up and stretched at the end of the optional Tuesday evening practice. The entire team had run a few easy miles earlier in the morning, but Coach Chad Young only wanted the experienced runners to return for the second practice. While addressing the stretching runners, Young hit on three concepts: confidence, toughness, and leadership.
Confidence and toughness go hand in hand. You don't want to fear a hill anymore than you want to fear an opponent. Athletes are not supposed to settle for seventh best on the team anymore than they are supposed to allow an opponent to outkick them in a close race.
Leadership is something else entirely. Runners can be tough and confident, but a positive social atmosphere glues a team together. Members of a team look out for one another and push each other to become better. A little bit of kindness from a senior to a freshman goes a long way and sets precedent for the attitude of the team that will follow once the seniors are gone.
Young didn't say anything about the strength or physical conditioning of the team partly because he doesn't exactly know where everybody is at physically. There have only been a few light practices and he will look to their first hard workout on Thursday to see where the team is at. For now, the early season coaching was all mental.
Girls outnumbered the boys two-to-one. More precisely, ten-to-five.
The B-CC girls make up a veteran team with several faces that I have become familiar with over the last three years. Everybody is back from last year's team which finished fifth in the county. When Young spoke specifically to the girls, he wanted them to believe that they could beat anybody on any given day.
The boys on the team were all unfamiliar to me. I think only one of the guys had any varsity experience last year on a team that was nearly all seniors. When Young spoke specifically to the boys, he asked them to compete among themselves, try to emerge as the number one runner on the team, and grow from the experience.
After a half mile warm-up and dynamic drills, the assignment was four easy miles. The miles did not feel easy to me, but I left my GPS watch at home and the girls were keeping up with the boys so I just went along with the flow. When the boys started to pull away after two miles, Coach Young reported that the second mile for the top four girls was in 6:30. I was relieved to know that the pace was as hard as it felt.
The pace slowed on the return trip but I estimate we (me and the girls) were still well under 8:00 pace. Because of the slower pace, we were quickly rejoined by four more girls on the team who had fallen back during the 6:30 mile. I must say I was impressed running down the Capital Crescent Trail, blowing by the casual joggers, with eight girls from one team (plus Coach Emily Young). Supposedly one potential varsity runner was absent, so the B-CC girls have outstanding depth this year.
I'm just going to say it. It reminded me of the first time I saw the Whitman girls practice last summer.
The boys turned the run into about five miles and finished at the same time as the girls.
August 18, 2011
I heard radio reports of horrendous traffic and thunderstorms with hail and lightening moving in from the southwest. For the most part I avoided all of that until I pulled into the Einstein High School Parking lot. Rain poured down in heavy sheets at the designated practice time of 6:30 PM. Lightening lit up the sky for about fifteen minutes; then the worst was over. The air was calm and cool and the sun peaked through the clouds as thunder rolled out to the east.
Athletes huddled together under cover at a back entrance of the school until the rain let up. When the thunder was safely in the distance, Coach Eric DaSilva broke the team into three groups based on ability level. The evening assignment was 3, 5, or 7 easy miles, running to the west away from the storm clouds. Earlier in the morning there was a hard fifteen minute tempo run on the track. DaSilva thought that should have tired everyone out so they wouldn't be tempted to hammer the evening run.
There are about ten girls on the team which seems like double the number Einstein usually has. Coach Kate Ligon said they were healthier than they had been in previous years. A few new girls join the team this year including one freshman they expect to be a strong runner, but she wasn't at this practice.
Also missing from practice were two of the top runners, Alex Hevey and Ben Withbroe who were said to be in good shape. Nick Simpson had to turn back early in the run due to ankle stiffness, so I did not personally get a good feel for how the top guys at Einstein are looking, but DaSilva thinks they will be competitive. They return four of the top five from last year's team which finished fifth in the county, and believe Ryan Henderson will round out the top five spots along with Peter Giblin. DaSilva predicted a repeat of a top five finish at this year's county meet, and added that if the fourth and fifth guys come on strong anything can happen.
Giblin and Henderson completed the 7.5 mile run with DaSilva in 52:30. Mud stained their backsides after running down the muddy trails along Rock Creek. The creek was high and rushing swiftly downhill after the heavy rains.
August 19, 2011
Kyle Tockman checks the fence every time he drives by Sherwood High School. It has been over six months since he first re-arranged the spirit cups that were originally intended for the girls' soccer team. It was a cold winter day long after soccer season ended. The track team was supposed to shovel snow off the track and Tockman arrived early before anybody else. That is when he got the idea to mark his friend's initials in the fence along the top curve of the track. Later in the spring, the team touched up the symbolic cups to add the full phrase, "NEVER BACK DOWN AP." The cups remained up all spring and all summer. Tockman hopes they stay up forever.
As I drove to the school, I thought I might start this entry debating the convenience of the Intercounty Connecter. Instead I pulled into the parking lot and it was the first thing I saw.
NEVER BACK DOWN AP
I was immediately drawn back to a memory three years ago. I pulled into the same parking lot ready to catch an early glimpse of Solomon Haile. He would go undefeated that season, winning the Footlocker National Title with ease. At the same time, I was looking for who else would contribute to the team that year. Jackson Reams and Kyle Tockman were unknown to me at that time, but something about the freshman Alex Popeck caught my attention. I asked Coach Reeks his name and committed it to memory.
Everyone who knew him has their own memories. The athletes on the Sherwood team have cups to evoke memories on a daily basis. At any time, an authority figure could deem the cups as trash and have them removed. Yet, the cups survived the summer and so did Alex Popeck's influence on the team.
In much the same way, I purposefully left Alex ranked at #9 on Mocorunning's Preseason Ranking. His name will be removed when the Week 1 rankings are published, but he earned that preseason ranking and his name will remain at #9 on the preseason ranking forever.
I attended Sherwood's second practice of the day. Earlier in the morning they had done a 40 minute run. The evening practice was very light. Following a ¾ mile warmup and drills, athletes did short hill work. According to Coach Dan Reeks, the purpose was to work on form and elevation change since they had mostly done flat running up until that point.
The first hill was short and steep. It was a section on their course between the tennis courts and an upper field. The distance wasn't more than 50 meters and they only ran about 5 repeats.
The second hill was a little bit longer with more of a flat stretch added onto the beginning and end. Each athlete only did this hill twice.
Practice concluded with a game of co-ed ultimate football.
The Sherwood boys are always good for one or two boys in the top ten in the state, but that may not be the case this year. It may be more of a tighter pack than in years past with Dustin Kang and Matthew Stitzlein likely to lead the way. Nick and Steven Johnson (no relation) may be a little banged up to start the season and Vik Siberry is coming back from nearly a year's worth of ailments, so it will take Sherwood some time to pull it together, but they expect to be strong by the end of the season. Reeks isn't sweating the region meet now that Sherwood has returned to the 4A North.
The Sherwood girls return five of the top seven from last year's team which finished fourth in the county. They are the only team aside from Whitman returning four girls from the top twenty five. Sophomore Grace McDonald is currently traveling the world in Spain, but they expect her to lead the pack of Gillian Tosatto, Amanda Tomlinson, and Jackie Weiss.
August 20, 2011
Seemingly anyone who went to the Concord Retreat Cross Country Camp returned impressed with Wootton, not only with the strength of the top runners but also with the cohesion and positive attitude of the team.
It's almost hard to believe that a year ago, the Wootton boys were on a quest to break a six year streak in which they had not qualified for the state championship. Now they are not only in the conversation as a competitor, but they are actually the talk of the town.
It has been five years in the making for Coach Kellie Redmond who took over the program in 2006. The Wootton boys were 10th out of 12 teams in the 4A West Region that year with only 2 boys in the top 74 in a field of 84. Over time the talent has flowed in and grown together. A real team and tradition has emerged. It was by far the largest team I have seen so far this week with 80+ runners taking up space on the grassy fields of Lake Needwood Park.
Wootton's 5:04 miler, Grace Corbett, is running cross country for the first time. Tall and free-spoken, she had a senior leadership presence on the team during drills. She is, however, in denial that she is indeed a distance kid.
What many may not know is that Alison Baruch, with a 12:13 3200m on her resume, will also run XC for the first time, adding great depth to a team that already has two top-fifteen county returners in Madeline Rico and Karen Cohen. The Wootton girls expect to be contenders every bit as much as the boys.
The assignment was 40, 50, or 60 minutes based on experience, ability, and health. The path would be out and back on the paved Rock Creek Hiker Biker Trail.
The top six guys set out at a very easy pace for the first few minutes, but after two miles in fifteen minutes I could tell they were itching to drop the pace. I dropped back with the next group and hit the water fountain just short of Viers Mill Road in thirty minutes.
A group of the top eight girls held a steady 8 minute pace and ultimately finished 7.25 miles in 60 minutes. The big three of Joshua Trzeciak, David Levine, and James Ertel blew past us with fifteen minutes to go and ultimately finished 8 miles in 56 minutes. Will Severynse, who ran track for the first time last spring, was not with them only because of a mild ankle injury suffered on the last day of camp.
Practice concluded with a quick hip workout. Some of the top runners chatted it up with me, eager to learn more about their competition and offering tidbits to me that I would not know unless I went to camp. It was clear that Wootton is running this year with a competitive mindset.
August 23, 2011
The 2011 Magruder Invitational will be the largest yet. It could also be the fastest because there will be a new course. The Agricultural Farm Park is requiring that the finish area be moved due to the presence of crops that they don't want trampled. As a result, the course will see significant changes. The new course is still pending the final approval from the Farm Park, but today I got to test the proposed new course. There should be a course map in a week or two, but I will try to describe the changes for those who are already familiar with the "old" course.
The first mile and a half of the course is almost identical to the previous course. The start line will be moved up to the area near the paved parking lot, chopping off about 100-200 meters from the start. The new start will also allow for more runners on the line. Otherwise the first half of the course is the same.
Near the halfway mark, runners previously made a tight turn to begin running back to the "rollercoaster hill" and creek crossing. Unfortunately the "rollercoaster hill" has been eliminated from the new course. Instead of making the tight turn, runners will continue forward and make a very large loop around the perimeter of the south field. Runners can expect this to be a very lonely portion of the race until they come up on the creek crossing from the opposite direction. Instead of descending the rollercoaster hill and making a left to cross the creek, runners will be completing a field loop and making a right to cross the creek at the same spot. The field loop is very large and puts athletes much closer to the finish when they reach the creek crossing.
The most significant change in the new course is the elimination of the road-crossing and the fence-lined hill in the final half mile of the race. That final hill was always a shade-less beast that wiped out runners, but it will not be a part of the course this year. Instead, athletes will weave around trees on a flat grassy trail adjacent to the creek until they hit the finish, which is in a very different spot.
If that was tough to follow, don't fear. There should be a map coming out soon.
After a one mile warmup, stretching, and drills, the Magruder runners ran 3, 5, or 6 miles. Many of the runners did the new invitational course once. The pace was supposed to be very easy because the team will be competing at the Sandy Spring Scrimmage the next day. The top five guys ran the course in 25 minutes before tacking on three additional miles. Practice ended with strides and team-building exercises.
The Magruder boys team lost a lot of seniors and will depend primarily on juniors this season, but Coach Timm doesn't think of it as a two-year plan. He believes that his top four or five runners are strong enough to compete this year. The prime focus for the team is adding depth and closing the gap in the top seven spread. The juniors on the team will work on becoming strong leaders.
The Magruder girls return a majority of last year's team and expect to improve on their 12th place finish at last year's county championship. Coach Timm says the girls, led by seniors Gabriela Arrazola and Shannon Oleynik, put in work over the summer and the results are beginning to show.
August 24, 2011
The National World War II Memorial opened in the spring of 2004. I was a freshman at Catholic University in Washington DC. We would run on the National Mall about once a week back then, and I remember running by the WWII Memorial for the first time. Aside from admiring the beauty of the new landmark - with its fountains and pillars and wreaths - I remember being surprised that such grand monuments were still being built in downtown DC. After all, Washington DC has been around a long time.
The Martin Luther King Junior Memorial opened to the public this week. I put it on my to-do list - not necessarily to visit this week, but something to do when I got the chance. I did not schedule a high school visit today so I decided today was as good a day as any.
I parked in Crystal City outside a friend's apartment building. We ran 3.5 miles into town until the sidewalks were too crowded to run anymore. It was about 7PM and it was quite crowded around the new MLK statue. It was bigger than I was expecting. The sun was setting behind it and reflecting shimmers off the water that the man overlooked.
You can google for photos and facts about the monument just as easily as I can, but here are two things that I found most interesting.
It is surrounded by cherry blossom trees which were given to the United States by Japan as a symbol of peace. The trees bloom pink and white petals for two weeks every year (Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, anybody?).
Lastly, there are MLK quotes inscribed on the walls of the monument which are profound and inspiring, but none of the quotes were taken from the "I Have a Dream" speech. The entire monument was inspired by the "Dream" speech and therefore the inscription wall is used to share his thoughts and ideas from other works. As far as I can tell, you can't find the exact wall quotes on the memorial's official website. You just have to visit the new monument to get the full experience!
August 26, 2011
Those who followed this blog last year know two things about me: I attended Gaithersburg High School, and I currently live in Virginia.
Every year I make a point to attend one Gaithersburg practice during the preseason. Like any good alumnus, I want to see my old team doing well, but this year especially required a visit to Gaithersburg to check out the school's construction and check out the proposed new county championship course.
Storms rolled through the area in the afternoon. Skies were probably clear by the time Gaithersburg started practice, but I never made it.
Living in Virginia, there are limited routes that I can take into Maryland, and as we all know, these routes can get locked up.
I'm not sure if it was storm-related, but the George Washington Parkway Northbound was shut down entirely due to fallen rocks in the road. Traffic was diverted toward I-66 Westbound, which in turn became congested at an early hour. There was a collision on the inner loop of the beltway near River Road in Bethesda, backing up traffic beyond the American Legion Bridge into Virginia. Had I wanted to consider going the long way around the beltway through PG County...well...that was locked up due to a crash near Lanham. The last alternative was cutting through DC and hiking up 355 from M Street all the way to Gaithersburg's campus. If I ever take that route some day, remind me to count the traffic lights. I could turn it into a game to keep myself from going insane.
I didn't even want to attempt it. It was traffic like I've rarely seen. I apologize to Gaithersburg for missing their practice and I apologize to everyone else for boring you with ramblings about roads and traffic.
I do plan to stay in Virginia long term so I can continue living close to my real job. I am actually in the process of buying my first home. A lot of people have asked me what I was up to this summer. I've been scoping out homes, working with the bank, working with realtors and the whole nine yards to try to do all that before cross country season begins. Well I am actually still right in the middle of the process.
I picked out a place where I want to live and made an offer last Sunday. On Tuesday, there was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake and phone lines in the area were tied up for several hours. My realtor was on the phone with my bank when the earthquake occurred. They were disconnected. Hours passed. While I was at cross country practice with Magruder, I got the call that all terms of the contract had been accepted by the seller. A Magruder runner yelled to me that phones were not allowed during practice.
There are still many steps in the process that need to be completed, but if all goes well I should be a homeowner by the middle of October. Will that affect the coverage of MoCo cross country this season? Naw, probably not. If anybody wants to help or just needs some extra upperbody work, I imagine a few hundred distance runners could get me moved in and settled in no time.
Last Saturday, after Wootton's practice, I drove down to the Richard Montgomery carwash. I chatted with a few runners while others diligently scrubbed the Mocorunning Mobile. Many of you may have seen this car at meets and assumed or wondered if it was mine. It is.
I recognize the irony of having Virginia plates that say "MOCORUN" but what else can I do? I will have the option of changing my tags when I re-register my car in a couple months. Does anyone have any suggestions? Other alternatives could be "MOCORNG" or "MCRUNNG" or "MOCOMAN", but I will probably stick with "MOCORUN" unless someone has another suggestion.
August 27, 2011
Whitman is the only team I know of that has a time trial on the first day of practice. Coach Steve Hays started doing this last year and says that it really motivates the athletes to work over the summer knowing they will be tested on day one.
This Saturday, there was a repeat time trial on the last day of practice before school begins. Boys ran first and Nick Adams cruised to victory by a large margin on the two mile course. Almost a minute later, the next seven runners swarmed across the finish within eight seconds of each other. There should be a lot of competition within the boys' squad this year. There are several new faces and for the first time in a while, the boys' team is larger than the girls' team.
The general impression that I've gotten throughout this preseason tour is that there are a lot of 4A West boys teams in rebuilding mode. Whitman, Northwest, B-CC and a few others fall into that category so I think it will be a fun season to follow as several teams vie for a trip to the state championship.
The Whitman girls of course are the defending state champions and are even more loaded than they were expecting this year. Having only lost Cara Bennett from last year's team, they knew they would be a good team, but on the first day of practice, an unknown freshman, Nicole Ihrie, showed up and finished third in the two mile time trial.
Ihrie dropped twenty seconds in the second time trial and finished sixth on the team. Every member of the top six completed two miles in under 13 minutes.
Defending state champion Anna Ryba led the way in both time trials. She, like many other runners, ran a little slower in the second time trial due to conditions. Hurricane Irene was approaching the DC area. It was not raining, but the air was humid and a swift warm breeze was blowing. On the day 1 time trial when conditions were more favorable, Ryba completed the course 25 seconds faster than the same time trial a year ago.
In today's time trial, the top seven Whitman girls averaged 32 seconds faster than the same time trial a year ago.
There is no question that Whitman looks like the team to beat in the county, region, and state this year. Unlike last year, they have been discussing the Nike XC Regional Meet in North Carolina where they hope to contend for a trip to the high school national championship.
August 31, 2011
Hurricane Irene roared up the east coast over the weekend leaving Montgomery County's cross country courses littered with branches, trees, and other debris. Coach Addison Hunt said that the Landon course required some cleanup, but the grounds crew did a great job clearing the course in time for the Wednesday evening scrimmage. Landon hosted Churchill, B-CC, St. Andrews, Bishop Ireton, and Washington Latin. The weather was perfect for the final day of August.
The course was modified from the usual Landon home course due to a bathroom facility under construction, but the course should return to usual later in the season.
I will be releasing the results for the preseason poll soon and it should surprise no one that over 90% of Mocorunning fans rank Churchill as the favorites to win the boys county title with Will Conway or Zach Weinstein to win the individual title.
In what was described as a hard 99% effort by the runners, Conway led all runners by finishing Landon's challenging course in 17:05. Zach Weinstein and Luke Shannon were a few seconds behind, but both were outkicked by freshman David Fitzgerald.
I have seen some memorable freshman debuts. Andrew Palmer finished 10th at Mount St. Mary's in 17:19 and Collin Crilly finished 19th at Mount St. Mary's in 17:01. David Fitzgerald's first high school 5k race tops them all given the difficulty of the Landon course and who he beat. It won't be recorded because it was just a scrimmage, but we only need to wait until the Magruder Invitational to see just how legit he is.
Churchill took the top five spots in the race with four runners between 17:05 and 17:15 and a fifth runner in about 17:25. Churchill is very strong up front but not especially deep so it will depend on the team's ability to stay healthy in their quest for a state title.
B-CC was just as dominant in the girls race (girls and boys raced together). Ava Farrell and Laura Nakasaka finished side by side in about 20:30. Freshman Kat McNeill finished third and Caroline Leuba was fourth before Churchill's Charlotte Bourg finished.
B-CC also took the sixth and seventh spots in the race and possibly more, but it was hard to tell without uniforms and with boys finishing at the same time. Aside from McNeill, Coach Chad Young says B-CC has two more freshmen pushing for varsity spots. B-CC girls are deep, deep, deep. While I think the Whitman girls are still a head above the rest, B-CC will be a real threat to Whitman in the junior varsity county championship races this year.
Landon has a pretty strong top four led by Mac Hightower, but there was almost a minute gap between four and five.
St. Andrews has Edward Douglass as their top runner but will need to develop a few more guys to compete in the MAC this year.
September 2, 2011
My preseason tour has come to an end. The real season gets underway for many teams tomorrow. I will be heading out to Emmitsburg where Mount St. Mary's puts on a great meet each year. I want to thank all of the coaches and athletes who welcomed me to their practice.
I want to use this last entry to announce a new partnership between Mocorunning and Pacers Running Stores. Pacers has a store in Silver Spring as well as Washington DC, Fairfax, Alexandria, and Arlington. It is a locally owned and operated chain that is looking to change the high school cross country game.
Pacers did some unprecedented things with high school cross country in our area last year. Anyone at the Georgetown Prep Invitational or Montgomery County Championships can attest to that. There was music with an MC who was a former high school national XC champion, live splits and results linked with Facebook, and photos and videos tagged to each runner based on finish position in the results.
This year there will be even more fun and exciting enhancements at cross country meets including photo booths which send photos directly to your Facebook account, free toy glasses to go with those facebook photos, dance-style video games, and radio broadcasts.
What they are doing falls in line with the reason why I manage this website. From the beginning I wanted to provide fans with a medium to learn about their competition and their sport. Not very long ago, there were no online rankings, no photos, no videos or analysis. These types of things have changed the high school cross country experience, whether today's athletes know it or not. Pacers has been working to take the experience to a whole new level and I am thrilled to be on board with them.