Three years ago, we introduced the running community to Matthew Hua, a runner at J.E.B. Stuart High School who would not allow his unique medical condition slow him down. In the time since, Matthew has proven unstoppable. In fact, within four days, Matthew hosted a dinner for the many champions who’ve supported him and his family over the years, graduated from Stuart with an international baccalaureate diploma and underwent surgery to further improve his breathing capacity.
RunWashington caught up with Matthew and several of his champions to find out what has changed in his life since 2015, and how running has changed him.
Between the Techs and the Wolfpacks, the Hoos and the Hoyas on the starting line, there are dozens of other college teams. Their uniform designs might be a little funkier. There might just be five runners in their boxes, if that. And they might need to give you a hint as to what state their school is in, but what they lack in scholarships they make up for in passion for running.
The 90 Division III schools that carry D.C. area natives on their rosters are giving them an opportunity to continue their love for running, for being part of a team and for pushing their bodies’ limits. The non-scholarship division, mostly small private schools, represents the NCAA’s largest division, with 451 colleges and universities, besting Division I by 100.
You think Virginia Tech is the college destination of choice for local runners? The Hokies sport 15, but on the other end of the state, 18 runners are on Christopher Newport University’s roster. Freshman Eric Speeney is one of them, picking it over Division I schools because of the freedom the program would give him to live his life as a student athlete.
Coach Herb Tolbert can’t go anywhere in Gaithersburg without someone calling out, “Hey, Coach!”
It’s a testament to his commitment to the community. A retired Gaithersburg High School guidance counselor and one of the school’s track and cross country coaches, Tolbert has been a pillar in the Montgomery County running scene for over 40 years. Still proud and enjoying what he does, Tolbert is nearing the point where he’s coaching his kids’ kids’ kids.
“It’s kind of like six degrees of Coach Tolbert,” he said with a smile.
Tolbert, 70, has spent his entire teaching and coaching career at Gaithersburg, and simply put, it’s the kids and close-knit community that have kept him there.
Cross country races are tough, guts-out, lung-ravaging affairs, and for most high schoolers, 5k is long enough.
But some want to ride that feeling a little longer. Like Zachary Zhao.
- The transfer period for Cherry Blossom bibs ends Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.
- Kensington’s Cindy Conant was named the long distance runner of the year for the 55-59 age group by USATF.
- A taxi drove onto the Custis Trail in Arlington the afternoon of Feb. 19.
- College and high school teams continued their indoor track postseasons with conference and state meets, respectively. Here are the local distance event winners or local sweeps. On ths high school side, Northern Virginia girls dominated the 6A 1600 meters, and Loudoun Valley’s boys swept the top six spots in the 4A 1600 meters.
It’s as inspiring as it is a little naughty.
T-shirts that say “Run like Schmidt,” worn by dozens of runners at Rock Ridge High School in Ashburn.
Parents love it, though. The shirts aren’t as self deprecating as you think, because Brian Schmidt, the school’s cross country and track coach, is running again despite a traumatic injury a few years ago. He had been an avid road racer and ultramarathoner, and before Rock Ridge opened, had coached at Dominion and W.T. Woodson.
“I’ve been running since 1983 and when something gets taken away from you that you’ve been doing for 34 years, it’s very difficult to come to grips with it,” he said.
It’s a tough call, but on the basis of Loudoun Valley’s Nike Cross Nationals victory and Abbey Green and Page Lester‘s top-15 finishes at Foot Locker, the D.C. area has likely put together its strongest and most diverse cross country season in recent years. D.C., Maryland and Virginia all had superlative runners who distinguished themselves throughout the season in races near and far.
If you want to keep track of the D.C. area’s graduating top runners, you can easily do it by bookmarking the University of Virginia athletics site. Five of our All-RunWashington postseason runners have committed to the Cavaliers to add to the eight underclassmen on the roster this year.
The RunWashington coaches panel met Nov. 27 to decide whose performances throughout the 2017 cross country season had earned them this honor. State championship meet performances carried the greatest weight, though other post-season performances and outstanding invitational results also figured in.
The coaches panel consisted of John Ausema, Gonzaga; Anthony Belber, Georgetown Day School; Steve Hays, Walt Whitman; Kevin Hughes, Georgetown Visitation; Mike Mangan, Lake Braddock; Chris Pellegrini, West Springfield; Kellie Redmond, T.S. Wootton; Scott Silverstein, Winston Churchill and Cindy Walls, Bishop O’Connell.
In addition to the All-RunWashington team, coaches from each state or D.C. picked their next seven top runners. Those teams can be viewed here:
Montgomery County once again dominated the D.C. area Maryland suburbs. The boys, particularly, put on a show at their county meet Oct. 21. Walter Johnson won its fifth-straight Maryland 4A title and Walt Whitman edged Bethesda-Chevy Chase for top D.C.-area boys’ team honors at the state meet in third.
Virginia’s 6A classification saw some of its traditions torn in half, as the traditional Northern Region was split and the Occoquan Region was born from it. Northern Virginia teams captured state championships in boys and girls 6A (Lake Braddock), girls 5A (Tuscarora) and boys 4A (Loudoun Valley).
This season saw the ascendance of St. John’s College’s teams, with the girls surging to the lead at the D.C. state meet and the boys into second, behind a young Gonzaga team that ran without top returner John Colucci.