- 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.
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.
D.C. private school runners won both individual varsity races at the Landon Invitational in the first large cross country race for many runners in almost two years.
St. Albans senior Pierre Attiogbe was the first of five D.C. school runners across the line, running 17:25 to Sidwell Friends senior Michah Lachman’s 17:44. Attiogbe broke away in the third mile and relied on the focus he had practiced most days during the height of the pandemic.
“I ran a lot of time trials, so I got used to running hard alone,” he said. “The rest of the guys slowed down in the second mile, but I kept going. I tried to practice feeling comfortable leading.
“Training last year helped me feel more at home running on my own. Getting to do it in a race felt right.”
Apparently finishing second at the state meet at the end of an abbreviated freshman season didn’t give Sailor Eastman much confidence.
It wasn’t until she was battling Olympic Trials 800 meter runner Juliette Whittaker in the last mile of the Oatlands Invitational that she realized she belonged in the race.
“I kept thinking they were all going to catch me and outkick me,” Eastman said. “I just decided to fake it until I make it.”
Five years after Loudoun Valley’s Drew Hunter kicked off his professional running career right out of high school, his mother Joan is making the same jump.
She will oversee training for the Boulder-based Timman Elite, an all-male collection of distance runners, including her son, who mostly represent the United States. She brings with her 18 years of high school school coaching at three different Northern Virginia high schools — with two Nike Cross Nationals titles in the last four seasons — and several intervening years coaching a youth team. Hunter served as a remote interim coach since March, before she and husband Marc retired as Loudoun Valley’s track and cross country coaches.
The family she babysat for didn’t need her. The cost of living, with no job, in Westchester, N.Y. was crushing. Her team’s funding was gone. So Katy Kunc came home.
With the pandemic squeezing her out of everything else, she ran the same roads and trails where she discovered her talent for running while at Lake Braddock.
“I started running more than I ever had before,” she said. “I figured I might as well take some kind of risk to get better.”
The 12 weeks of at least 80 miles added up to a whole new level of fitness that Kunc hadn’t reached in two years running for the New Jersey New York Track Club after graduating from the University of Kentucky, and she will be racing the finals of the Olympic Trials in the 3,000 meter steeplechase Thursday at 11:47 eastern. She qualfied for the finals with a 9:37.85 finish, a PR, in the first round.
Fitsum Seyoum didn’t last long during freshman tryouts for the Tuscarora track team.
“Most of track season is pretty warm, but tryouts were early in the year, so it was pretty cold and wet,” former Tuscarora coach Troy Harry said. “He didn’t stick with it.”
Fortunately, Seyoum came back the next year and went on to Virginia Tech, where his mastery of the 3,000 meter steeplechase has led him to two Atlantic Coast Conference titles and his second straight trip to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships. What does he like about the event?
“Those water jumps shock your body each lap, that cold water really wakes you up,” he said.
This year, he’s going to be joined in the semifinals by former Husky teammate Derek Johnson, who was two years behind him in high school and now running for the University of Virginia. They led their heat during the NCAA quarterfinals. Seyoum has the U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier and Johnson needs to cut four more seconds to make it to the Trials. Georgetown’s Parker Stokes and George Mason’s Annabelle Eastman have also moved onto the NCAA steeplechase semifinals. Post-collegiately, Chantilly alumnus Sean McGorty and Lake Braddock alumna Katy Kunc have the Olympic Trials qualifiers for the steeplechase and McGorty has the Olympic standard.
Taylor Knibb had already gone an entire year without competing in a triathlon, so what was a few more months?
Possibly the difference between making the U.S. Olympic Team and staying home.
For the first time since she was 11 years old, growing up in Washington, D.C., Knibb had a year off, with the competitions she had planned following her graduation from Cornell University all scuttled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In that year, she settled into her life as a professional in Boulder and toward the World Triathlon Championship Series race in Yokohama, Japan May 15. Winning that race made her the youngest U.S. Olympic triathlete in history at 23.
It was a cultural shift for Christie and Joe Jones.
Not to moving Virginia after living in Honduras and Bolivia. Rather than sitting quietly and clapping between points on the tennis court, they were welcome to… nay… encouraged to make as much noise as they could as their son Matthew ran around cross country courses.
“It’s a lot more exciting, you have a lot more adrenaline,” Christie said.
Matthew played tennis throughout his childhood as his family rotated among U.S. Foreign Service postings. When the Jones came back to the United States for a few years, he planned to keep at it and signed up for club tennis in advance of his freshman year at Thomas Edison High School. Then, the pandemic canceled all sports.
Well, nearly all sports.
Garrett Woodhouse gave an understated evaluation of Oakton’s performance at the 2019 Virginia state meet.
“We’re very dissatisfied with this race,” he said. “We’re always striving for more.”
The Cougars had fallen — hard — to West Springfield and were looking at a longer wait than normal until they could take another swing, 2020 being a leap year and all.
How little they knew that the extra day would be the least of their worries.
Of the three localities RunWashington covers, only Virginia pulled off some semblance of a traditional cross country season in the 2020-2021 school year as high school sports in the D.C. area were postponed from the fall or canceled entirely. In Maryland, Montgomery County schools managed a few dual meets, but had no postseason.