Avery Graham didn’t even recognize a fellow Montgomery County runner at the Oatlands Invitational, where she finished three seconds behind Poolesville sophomore Daisy Dastrup.
When Graham, a Sherwood freshman, saw her two weeks later at the Georgetown Prep Invitational, she restructured her goals for the race.
“I wanted to stay with her no matter what,” Graham said. “There were a few times I fell back a little, but I just kept running until I caught back up.”
Graham held on behind Dastrup until roughly 150 meters to go before kicking for a 19:55-19:57 win in the unseeded race.
“My kick is the strongest thing I do, so I just wanted to find the right moment to go,” Graham said. “Getting there with her was hard, I’ve never pushed myself so much in a race.”
Dastrup had planned to hang off of the leader’s shoulder until she wound up the leader.
“Nobody went out as hard as I was expecting,” she said of the two-loop course around the campus’ hilly golf course. “Once I was in the lead, I was afraid that if I dropped back, I wouldn’t get back up. It was painful.”
Both Graham and Dastrup come from families with long-time involvement in running, including Datrup’s brother, Caleb, who finished fourth for Poolesville’s boys team in the unseeded race.
Sherwood took the unseeded girls’ title over Poolesville.
The seeded boys’ race also featured a late-race kick, this time by Justice senior Ryan Watson, who prevailed by two seconds (16:47-16:49) over Walter Johnson’s Andrew Schell.
Watson was cautious coming to Schell’s native Bethesda, and sat back over the first lap of the course while he got his bearings.
“The hills were a real struggle,” Watson said. “I wanted to get a feel for the course before I made a move,” which he eventually did with about a quarter mile to go. “I noticed some of the front runners had a hard time following the cones, so I didn’t want to get into trouble until I knew exactly where I was going.”
Winston Churchill’s five scoring runners finished between seventh and 13th to win the seeded race over Walter Johnson.
The individual unseeded boys race was over early, after Northwest junior Gage Osborne jumped out to an early lead.
“My plan was to get out fast and settle into the pack, but when I looked around, I had a lot more of a lead than I expected,” Osborne said.
He ended up with a 13-second margin over Poolesville’s Dylan Derewonko, who brought two of his teammates with him to start off an easy win over Sherwood.
Though Osborne trained hard during his sophomore year during the pandemic with a goal of lowering his mile time when competitions began again, but he started his season out kind of flat.
“I saw some photos from my first race back and it looked like I was overstriding, so I have been paying attention to my form. That helped today on the hills.”
Seeded girls race winner Marisa Poe, a Maret senior, used the same focus in her 38-second win (19:28) over Langley’s Lila Waters.
“It was pretty fun,” Poe said. “I really enjoyed the course in the second loop after I broke away.”
Langley won the team seeded girls title over Walter Johnson.