The Loudoun Valley boys qualified for the Nike Cross National meet with a southeast regional victory powered by Sam Affolder and Peter Morris in second and fourth places, with Colton Bogucki and Jacob Hunter in 14th and 22nd place, and Connor Wells in 49th. LV’s Chase Dawson, running unattached, edged Wells. Thomas Edison senior Yared Mekonnen qualified individually. Loudoun Valley’s Natalie Morris, the Virginia 4A champion, was ninth. Northwood senior Obsaa Feda (30th) and Genevieve DiBari (26th) of the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart were the top Maryland finishers and Gonzaga’s Gavin McElhennon (75th) was the top D.C. finisher. They’ll race Saturday, Dec. 2 in Portland, Ore.
All three local runners to make the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships will return after successful regional races. In New York, National Cathedral School senior Page Lester finished fifth and Walter Johnson senior Abbey Green finished seventh. In Charlotte, N.C., George Marshall senior Heather Holt finished seventh. Last year, Green finished 21st, Holt finished 27th and Lester finished 32nd. They race Saturday, Dec. 9 in San Diego.
Local boys largely skipped Foot Locker, with the exception of Maryland state champions Ryan Lockett (12th in the Northeast) and Adam Nakasaka (26th), who went to New York. Mekonnen had earlier aimed for Foot Locker but by the middle of the season switched his plans in favor of Nike. Caleb McCurdy, the DCXC senior race runner-up, was the best local finisher in the South regional.
Running is often derided as the sport for less-coordinated people, which, ironically, may be what makes it attractive to those who are awkward or clumsy and are seeking ways to become fit, lose weight or galvanize a life change.
And D.C. is full of them, from a former “fat kid” to the girl awarded “Most Improved in Gym.” Three participants in Pacers 14th Street’s social runs — Caitlin Briere, Mike Parks and Jessica Rose –show us that it’s never too late to discover your inner athlete.
Briere is a self-described academic nerd whose parents didn’t encourage sports, because they hadn’t been athletes themselves.
She remembers her younger self as “the gangly, clumsy kid who was almost always sporting at least one scraped knee,” and who was not a natural fit for athletics.
“Neither of my parents were ever big into athletics, and so, growing up, neither of them went out of their way to encourage me to pursue sports. It wasn’t deliberate; I just think that sports were never really on their radar as something to encourage me to do.”
Every day, more runners transition from casual to competitor, from I’m in it to finish to I want to PR or place in my age group.
At any point in this progression, a coach might be helpful–whether as an advisor or a cheerleader or an accountability partner–and there is something especially powerful about the coach-athlete relationship that lasts over time. The dynamic changes as each person gets to know the other better. Coaches tailor training programs to unique athlete needs, know better when to push and when to rein in a zealous competitor and better understand the athletes’ challenges outside running that might affect their training, attitude or motivation. On the other side, athletes learn their coaches’ particular training philosophies, build trust in their coaches’ advice and in many cases gain a friend and mentor who, though primarily focused on running achievements, helps them in other parts of their lives.
Heritage alumna Weini Kelati led locally-connected collegiate runners at the NCAA Championships with a seventh place finish in the Division I meet, where she helped the New Mexico team to the championship. Georgetown individual qualifier Jonathan Green finished 10th. Clarksburg’s Lucie Noall finished 75, running for Queens and George Marshall’s Jenna Robbins finished 201st with her Shippensburg team in Division II. I have very little research on Division II rosters, so please comment if I’m missing anyone. Christopher Newport finished third in the Division III men’s race, and JJ LaPointe‘s (Bishop O’Connell) 14th place finish went a long way to making that happen. Abigail Levine, a Bethesda-Chevy Chase alumna running for Carnegie Mellon, finish 108th.
Nobody on the Walter Johnson girls’ team has ever known a world in which they haven’t been defending state champions. That will continue for another year, after the Wildcats won their record fifth straight 4A title.
- A man found unconscious Saturday on the W&OD Trail has been identified. He was found around 12:43 p.m. near the Fairfax County Parkway.
- Alexandria’s Bethany Sachtleben qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials Saturday, running 2:39:00 to win the Richmond Marathon.
- Georgetown’s Jonathan Green won the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional to advance to the NCAA Championships. Georgetown finished fourth, American finished 12th and George Washington finished 14th. Tai Dinger, a St. Albans alumnus, will race for Stanford, Chase Weaverling from Poolesville and Alex Corbett from Lake Braddock will race for Virginia and Northwest’s Diego Zarate will race for Virginia Tech.
- Maryland’s Alexandra Lucki, Georgetown’s Martha McDonald and Kentucky’s Katy Kunc, a Lake Braddock alumna, will race at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships Saturday, Nov, 18 in Louisville after qualifying as individuals. Locally, Georgetown finished third, Maryland ninth, American finished 15th and George Washington finished 18th in the Mid-Atlantic region. Heritage’s Weini Kelati will race with New Mexico’s team, Lake Braddock alumna Hannah Christen will race with Mississippi, Patriot’s Rachel McArthur will race with Villanova, Paint Branch’s Bethlehem Taye will run with N.C. State.
- Several local high school graduates will compete at the Division III Cross Country Championships. Christopher Newport’s team will include JJ LaPointe of Bishop O’Connell, Cavanaugh McGaw of Lake Braddock and Billy Rabil from West Springfield. Quince Orchard’s Liam Walsh will run with Carnegie Mellon and St. Albans’ Marcelo Jauregui–Volpe will race for Haverford. Jeff Gibson, from Edison now running for Mary Washington, made it as an individual qualifier. Carnegie Mellon’s women’s team, including Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s Abigail Levine, will also compete. The races are Saturday, Nov. 18 in Elsah, Ill.
- Pace the Nation has and interview with Marine Corps Marathon Marketing Director Marc Goldman.
Lake Braddock girls won their third straight 6A title, once again beating Oakton, winner of the two state meets before the Bruins’ streak started.
After three years of winning team scores in the 40s, the Bruins nearly doubled that, scoring 86 to Oakton’s 92.
They did it with a tight pack of their fourth through seventh runners, who finished 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 35th and 38th.
Senior Sarah Daniels led the way in sixth (19:00) and Brielle Perry in 14th in 19:28. Rebecca Doran (20:02), Zoe Rafter (20:03), Samantha Schwers (20:07), Madeline McAvoy (20:09) and Madeleine Fleenor (20:11), respectively, also raced. Daniels, Schwers and McAvoy returned from last year’s team.
On the eve of the the most dominant team race in Virginia history, Sam Affolder was a little disappointed.
“We had a team meeting, and I was expecting an inspirational speech about how we were going to make history and we’d come out fired up,” he said. “We talked about what we were going to wear the next day. Nothing about trying to sweep or go after the state record. I’d never had a pre-race meeting like that before.”
It looked like Gavin McElhennon was making a mistake. As he powered his way around the perimeter of the Kenilworth Park fields, he let Luke Tewalt hang behind him. He blocked the wind, set the pace and put himself out there, vulnerable for Tewalt to attack and take over the lead in the D.C. state cross country championships.
But his confidence in his strength gave him a boost and let him know it was alright, and the move he made with a mile to go gave him the margin he needed to win. He wound up running away from Tewalt and finishing in 16:34, 21 seconds faster than Tewalt on a course measured by several team representatives to have been between 75 and 200 feet longer than 5k. A permit conflict with the Kenilworth Park track prevented the use of the same course used in last year’s state meet and four years of the DCXC Invitational.