Washington, DC

Editor’s note: Five years ago, we published one of my favorite stories, and I wanted to share it with you here.

Matthew Hua relished his first season of cross country at J.E.B. Stuart High School (now Justice High School). With no prior athletic background, his 24-minute three mile time is a point of pride. Lifelong health problems have been an obstacle in his running career, but they haven’t stopped him from fully participating as part of the team — except maybe in the team dinners.

Matthew’s gastrointestinal system has never functioned normally. He is unable to eat at all and drinks very little. In fact, virtually every one of his bodily systems is compromised. He is deaf in his left ear and his left vocal cord is paralyzed. Underdeveloped lungs have led to chronic conditions such as tracheomalacia (softened cartilage around the trachea) and asthma. He has ongoing orthopedic problems and his immune system is compromised, leaving him susceptible to infection and illness.

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Mark Robinson poses with members of the Bell Multicultural High School track team. Photo: Courtesy of Mark Robinson

In 2011, Mark Robinson, a longtime coach at Catholic University, was at a crossroads. 

He was essentially juggling two full-time careers: His job as head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Catholic, and his job as a curriculum manager for a D.C. nonprofit. 

Robinson, a CU graduate who set records on the track that still stand today, opted to retire from coaching to focus on the job that paid his bills. 

“It was a gut-wrenching decision,” he said. 

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Jenna Goldberg leads the senior race at the DCXC Invitational. Photo: Dustin Whitlow

With two 10th place teams at Nike Cross Nationals, another individual qualifier and two girls in the top 20 at Foot Locker, the annual report for the D.C. area’s cross country circuit was quite strong. Loudoun Valley’s girls return much of their team, as do Lake Braddock’s girls, Oakton’s boys, Walter Johnson’s girls and St. John’s boys and girls. The season lacked 2018’s rain-related meet cancellations, and on a personal note, I was pleased to have state meets on three consecutive weekends, rather than two in one day.

Their pant cuffs still soaked with mud from a season that barely gave them time to dry off, our coaches panel of John Ausema Jim Ehrenhaft, Emily Farrar, Kevin Hughes, Mike Mangan, Kellie Redmond,  Giovanni Reumante, Chris Pellegrini, Chad Young all had input into the selection of post-season honors for 62 of the D.C. area’s top cross country runners. While races at the end of the season held the most weight, the coaches did not discount mid-season achievements.

They chose the top 10 boys and girls overall, along with second teams — seven each from — Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and the Maryland suburbs.

I’ve begun moving our photos from cross country races (there are a few college and open races in there too) and road races to a SmugMug page – you can see them here. You can also read all of this season’s cross country coverage here.

See all the post-season picks for  Maryland   Washington, D.C.   Northern Virginia

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Virginia postseason 2019

 

The 4A boys begin the state meet. Photo: Charlie Ban

Virginia saw individual and team sweeps of the 4A and 6A divisions, with Loudoun Valley defending its titles, West Springfield boys winning their first title since 1995 and Lake Braddock girls ending their one-year title drought. Loudoun Valley nearly matched its 1-5 sweep from 2017, and Oakton’s all-underclassman team came close to upsetting the Spartan boys. The Bruins’ surprise competition came from John Champe, which made a brief stay in 6A before being divded up after redistricting next year.

See all the post-season picks for All-RunWashington   Maryland   Washington, D.C.

I’ve begun moving our photos from cross country races (there are a few college and open races in there too) and road races to a SmugMug page – you can see them here. You can also read all of this season’s cross country coverage here.

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Maryland postseason 2019

Surafel Mengist, Jacob Marks, Timothy Boyce, Ayalew Fantaw and Sean Enright lead the chase pack at the Montgomery County Championships. Photo: Charlie Ban

Suburban Maryland saw Northwood’s boys repeat as Montgomery County champions and state runners-up with a new cast and Walter Johnson’s girls fight back to the top three in the state, lead by Jenna Goldberg’s comeback year, but also a team-best finish by the Montgomery Blair boys.

See all the post-season picks for All-RunWashington  Washington, D.C.   Northern Virginia

I’ve begun moving our photos from cross country races (there are a few college and open races in there too) and road races to a SmugMug page – you can see them here. You can also read all of this season’s cross country coverage here. Read More

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D.C. postseason 2019

Trying to keep track of team scores at the D.C. state meet gets a little dicey when Georgetown Day , Georgetown Visitation, Maret and Woodrow Wilson are involved. Photo: Charlie Ban

With a young team already realizing success, St. John’s figures to be a force in D.C., though Gonzaga wasn’t ready to concede the boys’ title just yet. The girls, on the other hand, avenged a state meet loss in 2018 to Woodrow Wilson. Cullen Capuano ran away for the boys’ win, but Georgetown Visitation sophomore kicked away from St. John’s freshman Meredith Gotzman for the girls’ title.

See all the post-season picks for All-RunWashington   Maryland   Northern Virginia

I’ve begun moving our photos from cross country races (there are a few college and open races in there too) and road races to a SmugMug page – you can see them here. You can also read all of this season’s cross country coverage here.

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Megan Hogan finishes the 2019 Boston Marathon. Photo: Justin Britton

Some people spend years training to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials, but George Washington alumna Megan Hogan did it twice before she ever got to run a marathon.

But eight years after she left D.C. to embark on a brief professional running career, Hogan finally ran a marathon, finishing Boston in 2:42:00 to qualify for the Trials for the third time. It followed a “pretty conservative” training cycle, and she is now eager to begin training for the trials and devote more of her focus to marathon training, in hopes of making it to the race without injury for the first time. She made the 2012 Trials with a 10k time qualifier and the 2016 Trials with a half marathon time.

The Ballston Spa, N.Y. native still maintains a relaxed approach to her running and nutrition, openly admitting that she sometimes misses training runs because of work deadlines she faces as an interior designer and regularly indulges in a glass of wine.

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Steve Martin, Chris Johnston and Bob Briggs prep at Burke Lake for the USATF Club Cross Country Championships. Photo: Ed Lull

If David Sullivan meets someone and tells them he’s a runner, they invariably ask him if he does marathons. 

He blanches.

“To them it’s like nothing else exists,” he said. “But I get it.”

Not so for Sullivan and the members of his Athletics East Track Club who will race at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships this Saturday at Lehigh University. 

Of the 16 masters runners who will compete for the club’s teams, 14 are D.C.-area locals, and Sullivan, of Kingstowne, hopes to keep giving runners over 40 a life beyond the marathon grind.

He found West Springfield resident Bob Briggs at Burke Lake one weekend earlier this year, during the club’s weekly Saturday run.

“David came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you look like a pretty fast old guy – want to run with us?'” Briggs said. Briggs is 62 and shooting for a sub-3 at the Houston Marathon in January. Soon enough, Briggs became a member of Athletics East, which Sullivan managed and coached while living in his native Boston, then revived in 2018. 

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Carlos Shultz leads the 4A race at the Virginia state meet. Photo: Bruce Buckley

Sam Affolder was hurting in the third mile of Nike Cross Nationals last December.

After leading Loudoun Valley throughout the year in defense of its 2017 first-ever national title, things were looking grim for the senior. Most runners behind him saw him as a target to pass, but Carlos Shultz saw him and knew that’s where he needed to be.

“I saw Sam up there, and I knew if he was falling off, I couldn’t be ‘back there,'” he said.

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Lake Braddock’s girls celebrate upon hearing they won the 6A championship. From left: Amelia Bradecamp, Sophia Rossen, Caroline Fleenor, Kayla Nocerito’s back, Alexandra Hague. Photo: Bruce Buckley

It had been a while since Bethany Graham had run down the long stretch that leads to the Virginia state meet finish line at Great Meadow. Three years in fact, since she had made it through a cross country season unscathed. In that time, John Champe high school grew to 6A from 4A, and when the senior finished first with a 34-second margin of victory over Ocean Lakes sophomore Aniya Mosley running 17:42, she nearly led the Knights to a team title in the state’s largest division.

Her own race held true to her formula all season – go out fast and hold on. Within seven minutes, she was alone.

“The last mile was pretty difficult, but I managed to finish strong,” she said. “I was pretty lucky all season to stay healthy.”

But unfortunately for Champe, the six of the top 11 finishers were running without their teams, meaning Lake Braddock’s top finisher Sophie Willis’s 12th place finish only counted as six points, cutting the advantage Graham offered. Lake Braddock put seven ahead of Champe’s fifth and edged the Knights by eight points.

“We didn’t even think we’d be on the podium,” Graham said. “We were going up against so many teams that been so good for so long. After we lost Mythri Madireddy to an injury, it encouraged the younger girls to step up, and they did.”

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