Kate Murphy’s legs were burning.
It wasn’t because she had just run 4:07.21 to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials in the 1500 meters. Or had just run against a professional field to make it to the semifinals of those trials. Or any of the performances over three years that made her one of the University of Oregon’s top recruits in 2017.
No, this was happening months later. She had just run a routine workout around the Lake Braddock High School track, notching times she could hit in her sleep. The speed was there, but the sensation was enough to shake her. For a while, it came and went. Then, it stayed. Running, which made it worse, didn’t seem worth it.
“I just wanted to quit,” she said. “Not quit the sport, but I needed a break from racing. It was getting too frustrating.”
She hasn’t quit, but she’s spent more than two years running in circles while trying to get back to what felt right. As a college sophomore, she has retired from competing at the University of Oregon, where she never got to put on a uniform, but she’s not exactly moving to Del Boca Vista any time soon.
After years of Page Lester and Taylor Knibb laying waste to the D.C. state meet, this fall saw some more competitive races, particularly on the women’s side, both in terms of the individual race and the team standings, with Wilson upsetting defending champion St. John’s, who missed junior Cady Hyde to injury. And while Gonzaga continued to win the boys’ team title, the competitive distance between juniors Gavin McElhennon, Luke Tewalt and Cullen Capuano narrowed. Kenilworth Park continued to serve as the site of the DCXC Invitational, which managed to go off, albeit muddy, when other invitationals were forced to cancel after heavy rain.
John Ausema (Gonzaga), Kevin Hughes (Georgetown Visitation) and Jim Ehrenhaft (St. Albans and National Cathedral) selected the D.C. team.
Northern Virginia teams swept day two of the state championships, with Tuscarora winning its fourth title in five years and West Springfield and Loudoun Valley winning their first titles. On the boys’s side, Loudoun Valley won its fourth straight and WT Woodson edged West Springfield for the Cavaliers’ first team title.
Chris Pellegrini (West Springfield) and Mike Mangan selected the Virginia team.
While Northwood didn’t unseat Severna Park at the Maryland state meet, the Gladiators’ runner-up finish was the best by a D.C.-area boys team in six years. On the girls’ side, Bethesda remained home to the top team, but this year it was Walt Whitman. Private schools saw some solid work by St. Andrew’s freshman Allison Mitchell and Bullis’ Nicholas Kariyanis.
Giovanni Reumante, Scott Silverstein and Chad Young selected the Maryland team.
The 2018 cross country season in the D.C. area was marked by a lot of rain. Some races, like the Oatlands and Octoberfest invitationals, were cancelled outright. Others, like the Glory Days Invitational, were altered to preserve as much of the course as possible. Races that went on were often much slower, and forced runners to be more tactical. Times appropriately went out the window. It seemed to pay off, though, in late November when many the Nike Cross Southeast regional was run in a deluge. By that point, the conditions were second nature to most of our local runners, who took advantage and found themselves near the front of the race. Ten boys in the top 25 and three girls in the top 15. Loudoun Valley’s boys then went on to repeat as Nike Cross Nationals champions, the first boys team to do so, and improving on their record-low score in the process.
Locally, we saw the first public individual and team champions in D.C. state meet history, a first state title for Loudoun Valley’s girls, W.T. Woodson’s boys, West Springfield’s girls and Woodrow Wilson’s girls. Young runners had breakout seasons all over the place, while the veterans continued to demonstrate a mastery of the sport. Loudoun Valley’s boys won their fourth straight state title and Tuscarora’s girls won their fourth in five years.
RunWashington convened members of its coaches panel to look at local runners’ seasons and name them to the All-RunWashington Postseason Team, which comprises the top 10 boys and top 10 girls in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The Maryland, D.C. and Virginia teams comprise the next seven boys and seven girls. The coaches who selected the postseason teams are: Chad Young, Bethesda-Chevy Chase; Chris Pellegrini, West Springfield; Mike Mangan, Lake Braddock; John Ausema, Gonzaga; Kevin Hughes, Georgetown Visitation; Jim Ehrenhaft, National Cathedral School and St. Albans; Giovanni Reumante, Northwood and Scott Silverstein, Winston Churchill.
Coaches considered overall season progress but gave more weight to postseason performances.
See the D.C., Maryland and Virginia teams here and have a look at all of RunWashington’s cross country coverage here.
There was panic in the Jungle.
People felt it at home in Purcellville, at the Commonwealth Games, in a University of Virginia dorm and beamed it back to the Gleendover Golf Course in Portland, Ore.
From all indications, Loudoun Valley was all over the standings as they raced Nike Cross Nationals. Second. Third. But definitely not first. A long way from being the first boys team to defend a national title.
“After the second mile, we heard we were in third, and it wasn’t even close,” Coach Marc Hunter said. “We were probably 30 or 40 points back, and you’re not going to make that up in a mile.”
Something had to be wrong.
Wilson High School’s Vincent Kamani, the DCXC Invitational sophomore champion, talks about his development as a cross country runner.
- Story from Vincent’s DCXC race
- The Kids on the Course
- NCAA Championships results
- Henley Gabeau obituary
D.C.-area runners dominated the Nike Cross Southeast meet, putting four runners in the top eight and 15 in the top 50. Loudoun Valley easily qualified for the national meet that “Purcellville” won last year, with Sam Affolder and Jacob Hunter finishing second and third in 15:14. Right behind Hunter, Eldad Mulugeta finished fourth in 15:15 and his Northwood teammate Obsaa Feda finished eighth in 15:20. The course at WakeMed Park in Raleigh, N.C. was extremely muddy after days of rain, with more rain throughout the races.
Other top-50 finishers included Bishop O’Connell senior Max Greczyn in 11th in 15:29, four more Loudoun Valley runners in senior Connor Wells in 16th (15:37), junior Kellen Hasle in 17th (15:38), junior Carlos Shultz in 22nd (15:42) and senior Jacob Windle in 24th (15:44) with Washington Latin junior Luke Tewalt finishing 23rd in 15:42. West Springfield junior Sam Pritchard was 40th in 15:57, Loudoun Valley juniors Mateo Barreto and Kevin Carlson finished 45th and 46th in 15:59 (Barreto ran unattached) and West Springfield junior Chris Weeks was 48th in 16:01.
Two Loudoun Valley girls came close to qualifying as individuals – sophomore Ricky Fetterolf in eighth (18:05) and junior Elise Abbe in ninth (18:19). Rock Ridge freshman Ava Gordon finished 15th in 18:31, West Springfield junior Amy Herrema was 30th in 18:56, Washington Latin sophomore Zoe Edleman was 32nd in 18:59.
Loudoun Valley’s boys scored 52 points to beat Florida’s Bolles with 117. They’ll race Saturday, Dec. 1. Northwood was the top local Maryland team in 13th with 327 (trailing 12th place West Springfield by six points), and Gonzaga was the top D.C. team in 24th, with 569 points. The Loudoun Valley girls were sixth, scoring 217 points.
At the Foot Locker South regional on a drier McAlpine Park course in Charlotte, N.C., George Marshall senior Natalie Bardach led local finishers in 18th place in 17:52, with Annandale sophomore Julia Ghiselli 27th in 18:14. Broad Run junior Ellie Desmond, 31st in 18:17, Woodbridge senior Laura Webb, 47th in 18:35, and John Champe junior Bethany Graham, 50th in 18:37 rounded out the top 50. Herndon junior Colin McCauley’s 81st place finish in 16:18 led Northern Virginia finishers, though DCXC Invitational senior race winner Daniel O’Brien, a junior at the Virginia Episcopal School, qualified for the national meet, finishing third in 15:07.
Maryland and D.C. runners competed at Van Courtlandt Park in New York City for the Foot Locker Northeast meet. Poolesville senior Nandini Satsangi led local Maryland finishers in 49th place in 19:40 and Sophia Hanway, a sophomore at D.C.’s National Cathedral School, finished 65th in 19:55. Bullis junior Nicholas Karayanis led local Maryland finishers in 40th place, running 16:29, and St. Albans sophomore Damien Hackett was D.C.’s top finisher in a tie for 53rd place, running 16:41.
Three Virginia teams won their first state championships Saturday at Great Meadow, while two regulars kept their annual appointments on the podium.
Tuscarora girls and defending national champion Loudoun Valley boys repeated as team champions in 5A and 4A, respectively, but Loudoun Valley and West Springfield’s girls an W.T. Woodson’s boys (6A) were both new to hoisting a trophy. LV’s Sam Affolder repeated and his teammate Ricky Fetterolf won her first individual title. Three Northern Virginia runners finished in second: Broad Run’s Ellie Desmond in 5A, and West Springfield’s Chase Kappeler and Woodson’s Jack Leech in 6A.
Seniors Obsaa Feda and Eldad Mulugeta led their Northwood High School cross country team to a second-place finish on Saturday at the Maryland state meet. It was also a D.C.-area school’s top finish in the 4A boys’ race since Walter Johnson’s runner-up finish in 2012.
The teammates ran together toward the finish line in the 4A boys’ race, but Feda crossed first, running the hilly three-mile course at Hereford High School in 15:44.05. Less than a second later, Mulugeta finished the race, earning a time of 15:44.29.
The third- and fourth-place runners finished 18 seconds after Feda and Mulugeta.
Northwood Coach Giovanni Reumante was amazed by what his team was able to accomplish.
“We set this goal at the end of last cross country season,” he said. “And so throughout indoor, outdoor and the entire summer, they worked toward this goal of being a competitor at the state meet.”