Running Shorts

  • A slew of runners with local connections will race in the NCAA Division I and III Cross Country Championships this weekend.
    • Georgetown’s men and women, including West Springfield alumna Keira Bothwell, will race the Division I championships Nov. 20 in Tallahassee, along with George Mason’s Annabelle Eastman. The field will also include:
      • Patriot alumna Rachel McArthur, running for Colorado
      • John Champe alumna Bethany Graham, running for Furman
      • Washington Latin alumnus Luke Tewalt, running for Wake Forest
      • George Marshall alumna Heather Holt, running for N.C. State
      • James Madison alumna Rachel Shoemaker, running for Rice
    • Catholic will have two individual qualifiers in John O’Rourke and Paige Wilderotter at the Division III race in Louisville. The field will also include:
      • Brentsville alumni Sam Llaneza and Sarah James, both running for Lynchburg
      • Gonzaga alumni Gavin McElhennon (Johns Hopkins) and Cullen Capuano (Washington University)
      • Bethesda-Chevy Chase alumnus Josh Fry, running for Colorado College
      • Stone Ridge alumna Genevieve DiBari, running for Pomona
      • Northwood alumnus Tim Boyce, running for St. Lawrence
      • Meridian alumna Logan Funk, running for Christopher Newport
      • Chantilly alumnus Tyler Amos, running for Johns Hopkins
      • Washington Latin alumnus Oliver Spiva, running for Amherst
      • Quince Orchard alumna Elizabeth Cassell, running for Dickinson
      • Briar Woods alumnus Aidan Nathan, running for Case Western
      • Georgetown Day School alumna Ilana Zeilinger, running for Bates
  • As winners of the Stone Mill 50 Mile Saturday in Montgomery County, Nicolas Crozier and Kristen Kelman won RRCA Ultrarunning titles for 2021.
  • The lottery for the 2022 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run will be open Jan. 3- Jan. 16.
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Heavy rain in late October forced a postponement for the Montgomery County Championships, and put coaches in a bind. How should they approach a race for bragging rights, when the regional meets, which would hold their fate for the state meet, loomed three days later?

For Gildon Kirk, in his first year coaching cross country at Bethesda-Chevy Chase, he saw it as a learning opportunity for his star sophomore Varri Higgins.

“Last year during the track season, she didn’t have much competition until the post-season, and that showed when she had to race the faster girls in the state,” Kirk said. “We looked at every race as an opportunity to get some more experience and get a feel for how to compete.”

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Oakton didn’t exactly defy any laws of physics, but typically, losing five of your top seven from a state championship team means you should expect a rebuilding year. But like the hummingbird that probably shouldn’t be able to fly, nobody every told the Cougars that.

With a steady stream of six finishers between 18th and 37th, Oakton scored 83 points to Yorktown’s 88 to win the Virginia 6A championship at Great Meadow, seeing their results get better as the races got bigger. After losing the Concorde District by two points to South Lakes, they posted a 10-point win over the Seahawks at the Northern Region.

“After districts, we saw how close we were,” said senior Elham Huq, who finished 27th in 16:53 and one of two returning runners. “It was just seconds… it’s marginal. That’s when we realized our potential.”

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Two local college teams and a variety of other local runners won individual honors at college conference cross country meets last weekend.

Georgetown won its second straight Big East title in Indiana George Washington University’s women won their first Atlantic 10 Cross Country title Saturday in Ohio. Georgetown’s Maggie Donahue won the Big East individual championship, George Mason’s Annabelle Eastman won the Atlantic 10 individual championship and John Champe alumna Bethany Graham, running for Furman, won the Southern Conference individual championship.

Josh Fry, a Bethesda-Chevy Chase alumnus won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference individual tile, running for Colorado College and Logan Funk, a George Mason/Meridian alumna now at Christopher Newport, was the Coast-to-Coast Conference champion. Gonzaga alumnus Cullen Capuano, a sophmore at Washington University in St. Louis won the University Athletic Association’s rookie of the year.

GW had all four scoring runners – Margaret Coogan (2), Peri Pavicic (6), Kathryn Nohilly (10), Olivia Syftestad (15) and Julia Dempsy (17) – finish in the top 20 to score 50 points to host Dayton’s 75. Eastman, second in the spring’s conference meet, ran 17:24, ahead of Coogan’s 17:31 and led the Mason women to a fifth place finish. George Mason’s Jack Ikenberry finished second in 24:43 to Richmond’s Peter Borger’s 24:35 to lead Mason to a third place finish. James Glockenmeier (fifth place) led the GW men to a seventh place finish.

Donahue won the Big East title 20:47-20:49 over Villanova’s Lydia Olivere, the first of four Georgetown scorers –  Sami Corman (6), West Springfield alumna Kiera Bothwell (10) and Baylee Jones (13) in the top 15, with Katie Dammer finishing 35th. Jack Salisbury (6) led the way for the Hoyas, who swept places 10-13, but lost 35-52 to host Butler.

Howard had two second place finshes at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, led by Joslyn Crosby (3) and Gavin Williams (4). Howard also had top locals finishing 11th: Walt Whitman’s Breanna McDonald and Bowie’s Tafari Stephenson. Catholic’s men finished third John O’Rourke’s runner-up finish and their women finished sixth, led by Paige Wilderotter. Maryland’s women finished 14th at the Big 10 Championships, with Lake Braddock alumna Sarah Daniels leading the way for local finishers in 95th place.

American finished eighth on the men’s side and 10th on the women’s at the Patriot League Championships, led by Russell Sullivan (39th) and Emily Neuner (67th). Bowie State’s men finished second at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championships, led by Shane Massey in fifth, and ninth in the women’s race, led by Central’s Heaven Jenkins in 40th place. UDC’s women finished fifth at the East Coast Conference Championships, paced by Kamille Dixon’s 12th place finish.

Both Marymount teams  finished fifth at the Atlantic East Conference Championships, led by Jules Lemmon in sixth and Hayfield alumnus Matthew Zirkle in 30th.

Outside of the D.C. area, Richard Montgomery alumnus Rohann Asfaw, running for Virginia, finished 13th at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships and George Marshall alumna Heather Holt, running for N.C. State, finished 17th.

Patriot’s Rachel McArthur finished fifth at the Pacific 12 Championships, running for Colorado.

At the Ivy League Championships, Bethesda-Chevy Chase alumna Zoe Nuechterlein, running for Yale, was sixth and Yorktown alumnus Albert Velikonja was 28th for Dartmouth.

William and Mary runners led local finishers at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships, with runner-up Sam Pritchard from West Springfield and Loudoun Valley alumna Kyra Holland (14).

Northwood had two UMBD runners lead locals at the America East Championshos – Fantaw finishing 39th Madison Armonda in 40th.

Woodson’s Tyler French was 49th at the Patriot League Championship for Lehigh

East Carolina had two runners leading local finishers at the American Athletic Conference Championships – Patriot alumna Linsay Yentz (27th) and Herndon alumnus Colin McCauley (35th).

James Madison’s Rachel Shoemaker, running for Rice, was 27th at the Conference USA Championships.

Loudoun Valley alumnus Jeremiah Mussman was 38th for Liberty at the Atlantic Sun Championships. Forest Park alumnus Zach Diller was 68th at the Southern Conference Championship, running for VMI.

Saint Sebastian Academy alumna Anne Akagi finished 12th at the Big South Championships for Charleston Southern and Loudoun Valley alumnus Ben Goulet was 62nd for Longwood.

George Mason alumnus Ryan Henderson, running for Christopher Newport, was second at the Coast-to-Coast Championships. Bethesda-Chevy Chase alumnus Adam Nakasaka was seventh at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships. Gonzaga alumuns Gavin McElhennon  was 10th at the Centennial Conference Championships, running for Johns Hopkins.

I’m sure I missed somone. I’m sorry.

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In a moment, Ava Gordon knew something was wrong.

While training over the summer, she took a breath and realized things weren’t quite right, which lead to a positive COVID-19 test and a few weeks off of running while she recovered.

In another moment, she knew things would be alright. That was while she was trailing Herndon’s Gillian Bushee in the second half of the Third Battle Invitational. She felt raindrops, and knew her fortunes were turning.

“I just love running in the rain, and I started feeling really good,” Gordon said. “I figured out I had COVID because I could only run about 10:00 pace.”

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Mud changes the dynamic at Glory Days Invitational

Thais Rolly, Gillian Bushee and Anna Macon Corcoran were content to cruise along during the Glory Days Invitational, working together to push the pace and covering ground. 

Then the ground got involved. 

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In her first full season of high school cross country racing, Grace Finnegan is trying to balance her early success with recognition that she still has a lot to learn.

After a few open races during her freshman year at Richard Montgomery, she’s facing new runners every week and trying to pick up tips and process each experience.

“I was trying to read everyone else’s energy,” she said. “It’s a skill I’m still learning.”

She figured it out at the Octoberfest Invitational at Great Meadow, running 17:59 to win over Herndon junior Gillian Bushee (18:14) and hit her first sub-18 cross country 5k.

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Running Shorts

  • American freshman Oscar Counsell was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week following his race at the Jasper Fall XC Invitational.
  • Oakton alumnus Garrett Woodhouse, running for Utah State, was named Mountain West Freshman of the Week following his 14th place finish in the Montana State Cross Country Classic.
  • Loudoun Valley alumna Kyra Holland was named William and Mary Student-Athlete of the Week following her ning place finish at the Virginia Invitational.
  • George Washington junior James Glockenmeier was named Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week folliwng his win at the James Madison University Invitational.
  • George Washington first-year Olivia Syftestad was named Atlantic 10 Rookie Performer of the week following her ninth place finish at the James Madison University Invitational.
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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.

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