by Charlie Ban September 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm 0

Westfield's Johnny Pace leads Woodson's Robert Lockhart and Lake Braddock's Alex Corbett and Kevin Mongue to the two mile mark at the Monroe Parker Invitational. Photo: Charlie Ban

Westfield’s Johnny Pace leads Woodson’s Robert Lockwood and Lake Braddock’s Alex Corbett and Kevin Mongue to the two mile mark at the Monroe Parker Invitational. Photo: Charlie Ban

Adrenaline launches most kids through the first mile of a cross country race. Then reality catches up in the second mile, and when that’s compounded with a long sunny stretch and temperatures well into the 80s, the overly bold typically pay for their exuberance.

Unless they are Ryan McGorty.

[button-red url=”http://va.milesplit.com/meets/180507-monroe-parker-invitational#.VAzBXPldXDG” target=”_self” position=”left”] 2.98 mile Results [/button-red]With a 4:49 mile split through the Monroe Parker Invitational, the Chantilly senior cruised to a 20-second win in 15:02 over Burke Lake’s 2.98 mile course, where his brother, Sean, won [button-red url=”https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ed-Lull-Track-XC-Pictures-Northern-Region/106970012725268″ target=”_self” position=”left”]Photos and video by Ed Lull [/button-red]two years before. Behind him, Kevin Monogue and Alex Corbett finished second and third to lead Lake Braddock to a dominating win over West Springfield at the annual Northern Virginia season opening cross country meet. The Bruin duo led two more runners across the line in the top 10 (Colin Schaefer in seventh and Ben Fogg in ninth) to open a gap other teams had few hopes of closing. Defending 6A state champion Chantilly was fifth.

“I wanted to try to run 4:50s for the first two miles and hang on until the finish,” McGorty said. “I was about 9:53 at two miles, so I slowed down after I got away from (Westfield’s Johnny) Pace, but it felt great to hit ’53 for two and keep going.

“In that last mile, I started to feel the heat a little, but I didn’t see anyone in my peripheral vision so I took a chance and went for it. I wanted to get under 15 but I’ll take 15:02.”

He’ll likely have his chance later; of the boys who have run under 15 minutes, all but one (Eric Kweeder, 1996) did it later than the Monroe Parker, according to Northern Virginia Cross Country/Track and Field Association records.

Race start times, ordinarily the least consequential of the five Ws, played a big part in the varsity races, with the boys’ gun going off at 11:15 and the girls’ at 11:45.

“We were very careful today,” Lake Braddock coach Mike Mangan said. “We stayed back for a mile and a half. With temperatures like these, you’ll hit the red line really fast.”

Though the Bruins graduated three runners from their state runner-up team the year before, they also lost a few underclassmen whose families moved. But, in a fortunate coincidence, one new runner, Schaefer, moved into a departed runner’s house.

“The start was a little funky, Alex and I didn’t get out all that fast,” Monogue said. “We made up a lot of time in the campground and had a good pack through the second mile.”

The pair broke away in the third mile and Monogue edged Corbett by one second in 15:24.

Annandale’s Aviad Gebrehiwot finished fifth (15:48) in a race he said demonstrated the gains he had made over the summer.

“I knew it at two miles,” he said. “Usually, I’m absolutely dead heading up that hill (into the parking lot), but I had the strength to keep attacking there. It helped I was with a bunch of other great runners today. I’ve just never felt so strong on this course before. ”

In the girls varsity race, a half hour later and even hotter, Chantilly senior Xaveria Hawvermale and James Madison senior Amanda Swaak battled for more than 2.5 miles before Swaak made a move with 600 meters to go that Hawvermale couldn’t cover.

It was a much better result than Swaak expected, as recently as before the gun fired.

“I’ve had a hard training week, I didn’t feel that good,” she said. “Even on my warmup, I was going slowly and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t want to focus on the time because of the weather, so I was just going to run for place.”

She got stuck back in the lead pack early in the first mile, but before long had caught up with Hawvermale, at which point theybroke away.

“It was nice racing with her, because we worked together,” she said. “I don’t think I could have run as fast on my own.”

Hawvermale said she was not made for running in the heat, but she put on as brave a face as she could for her team’s sake and took a shot at the win. After racing sparingly in her first two years, she has had an unprecedented year of good health and is excited to build on that as the season progresses.

“Heat’s something I struggle with, but when it gets cooler I should feel better,” she said. “I’m much better off trying to run longer races, I avoid running the 800 on the track at all costs, so having weather where I can run hard will help.”

Swaak’s teammate, junior Morgan Whittrock, also was less than thrilled about the temperature, but she still managed to finish eighth, leading the Warhawks to a 75-99 win over Lake Braddock.

“It was beating on me,” she said, “but I knew everyone had been out here for hours, just like us, so I tried to go out there, take it and race them.”

James Madison sophomore Devon Williams finished 20th in her first cross country meet.

“She ran on our 4×8 team at states, so she’s used to the competition, but three miles was a whole new race for her,” said coach Craig Chasse. “The team as a whole, they did their work over the summer, they’re off to a good start.”

So is Chantilly freshman Harrison Shay, who ran 19:12 in the freshman boys’ race for his first cross country meet.

“I felt awful at the end, and it wasn’t even as hot as the later races,” he said. “I was just trying to get up the next hill, around the next tree. I made it, and I didn’t die.”

A family running background got Shay into running, including an uncle who runs marathons.

“I liked being competitive,” he said, noting that he eschewed team racing to go after his opponents one by one. “I think I’ll stay with this.”




by Charlie Ban August 18, 2014 at 7:58 pm 1 Comment

Tim Ward, Amanda Swaak, Ryan McGorty, Kevin Monogue, Ellie Leape, Alex Corbett, Tristan Colaizzi, Keirnan Keller, Amir Khaghani and Emily Murphy. Photos by Dustin Whitlow

Tim Ward, Amanda Swaak, Ryan McGorty, Kevin Monogue, Ellie Leape, Alex Corbett, Tristan Colaizzi, Keirnan Keller, Amir Khaghani and Emily Murphy. Photo by Dustin Whitlow

Simply put, last year was good for the D.C. area’s cross country runners. West Springfield’s Caroline Alcorta’s third place was the best Footlocker Cross Country Championships race by a girl since Erin Keough won it all in 1986. Katy Kunc and Hannah Christen gave Lake Braddock two national championships qualifiers. Edison’s Louis Colson and Marshall’s Mackenzie Haight proved the 5A class’ depth by making it, and St. Albans’ Tai Dinger gave D.C. its first qualifier since Sidwell’s John McGowan.

But that was last year.

[button-red url=”https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.945276658832900.1073741857.189448104415763&type=1″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Pep Rally Photos by Swim Bike Run Photography [/button-red]

[button-red url=https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.700506883371575.1073741986.106970012725268&type=1″ target=”_self” position=”left”] More Pep Rally Photos by Ed Lull [/button-red]

And aside from Alcorta, none of those runners made it to the finals the year before. Oakton’s Allie Klimkiewicz did in 2012, and she and Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s Nora McUmber, who won the Nike Cross South Regional, bring the most national cross country experience back to the crowd that will take the fields in a few weeks to kick off the season. So with a combination of their experience and the emerging talent that became apparent over the recent track seasons, our runners will likely remain a force in the new year.

Let’s meet some of our pre-season All-RunWashington team members.

How it’s done

coachesWith the help of its panel of experienced coaches, RunWashington looked at runners from D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland to peg who is primed for big things this fall. Coaches selected 10 runners whom the D.C. area would send to compete against other metropolitan areas’ best. Coaches from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. then chose the seven best remaining runners for the All-Virginia, All-Maryland and All-D.C. team. Runners’ schools determined which region they would represent.

Their prior cross country seasons played a big part, but track performances often point to major improvements on the horizon. Who knows whether a great mile time will hold up over 5k, but the panel’s consensus was that talent tends to find a way.



Fairfax’s Alex Maguire is trying to prove the panel right. Though he considers cross country his weak sport, he has been focusing on building endurance this summer, part of which has been spent in the Cayman Islands. He wants the 4:15 he ran at the Virginia state meet in May to translate to grass, and he hopes the money he puts in the bank while on vacation builds up.

“It is very hot during the day and extremely humid, so naturally it makes it very difficult to run,” he said. “But, it definitely is a positive because it teaches me to be able to run hard in adverse conditions.”

Drew Hunter started coming on last fall with a 3A state championship in cross country. The Loudoun Valley sophomore cruised to a comfortable win at Great Meadows, but made his mark breaking nine minutes in the two mile at the New Balance Outdoor National Championships during track season, finishing second in 8:53.81. That’s going to make him a player on the national scene, with that two mile ranking him fourth out of returning runners. His 4:10.04 1600 meter from New Balance demonstrates his range.

Klimkiewicz also brings national championship experience, having qualified for the Footlocker Cross Country Championships in 2012 and finishing two spots short of qualifying for a repeat trip to San Diego. Her sophomore teammate Casey Kendall is poised to make a jump in her second year as last year’s second-fastest freshman at the 6A state championships.

Nearby at James Madison High School, Amanda Swaak is hoping to continue her late-season momentum that saw her finish 19th in the Footlocker South regional meet, where she ran a PR of roughly 40 seconds.

“I love distance,” she said. “I wish we raced longer than 5k.”

Swaak finished 12th at the state meet, one place ahead of Robinson’s Lauren Berman but two behind Chantilly’s Xaveria Hawvermale.

Outside of the 6A classification, Heritage’s Georgie Mackenzie’s 5:10.47 mile could adapt well to the cross country course, ala Alex Maguire.

Alex Corbett ran to a strong second place individual finish last year, leading his Lake Braddock team likewise to the runner-up position. Though he doesn’t have the turnover that many high schoolers take for granted, his endurance allows him to run fast much longer.

“He’s going to be a great 10k runner some day,” said his coach, Mike Mangan.

Though the state meet wasn’t his fastest race of the year, Corbett was pleased with his tactics and execution.

His teammate Kevin Monogue came out of nowhere during his sophomore cross country season, suffered an injury during track and then caught up by the end of his junior cross country season to be part of a pack of four Bruins who finished within five seconds. Monogue was third in that group, finishing 31st overall. Like Corbett, he excels at longer distances, with a 3200 meter best of 9:23.04.

West Springfield’s Tim Ward is another distance specialist, with a 9:27 3200 best and a penchant for cranking out laps around Lake Accotink.

Ryan McGorty returns with another year of experience under his belt, one during which he took charge of the Chantilly team from his graduated brother and led the Chargers to a repeat state championships, and a narrow one at that (two points). Though his teammate Dakota Lange’s move back to Utah will gouge the team’s depth (McGorty and Lange finished third and fifth, respectively, at the state meet), McGorty is not shying away from the challenge.

“Once the season gets started, we’ll see who’s ready to step it up. We’re still hoping to do big things,” he said. “My favorite memory last year was seeing the Robinson kids and Battlefield kids saying they had won, and we all thought we’d lost. Then we saw our coaches hugging in the distance and we knew we’d made it.”



Tristan Colaizzi from Georgetown Day School’s sophomore track season ended prematurely, but he filled in throughout cross country for his injured brother, then-senior Griffin. That season’s high point was a tie for the D.C. state championship with teammate (and All-D.C. honoree) Aidan Pillard.

“It was great to share that with him, because we train together, put in the miles,” he said. “We feed off of each other and it’s great to see that all come together.”

The two led the way for GDS’s team victory and along with three other runners will return for the Hoppers, giving them a claim as preseason favorites among D.C.’s boys teams.

“I started off last year three seconds behind where I left off freshman year,” he said. “It was great to see I was just as sharp as I was at the end of the year before.”

Ellie Leape discovered early on at Sidwell Friends School how different high school training could be, but she grabbed ahold of her adjustment and asserted herself in her freshman season.

“When I got to high school, training was a lot more intense,” she said. “I improved greatly just in the preseason. I had never followed a training plan before.”

It kept working for her, as she ran to a healthy win at the ISL cross country championships, ahead of the Georgetown Visitation trio of Emily Kaplan, Lauren Cormier and Margaret Lindsay (all of whom are All-D.C. team selections) that will loom large over the D.C. team scene.



In Maryland, Walter Johnson’s girls team came on strong toward the end of the last cross country season, upending Bethesda-Chevy Chase in the regional and state championships. Coach Tom Martin attributed that success to mutual respect and support among the girls, which he insists was entirely their doing.

“I wish I knew how to make girls like each other, but this team works together and they run for each other, instead of against each other,” he said after they won their state crown. “It makes a big difference.”

Kiernan Keller finished fifth at the state meet and led the Wildcats throughout the year, but was a surprise for Martin, transferring from the Academy of the Holy Cross. It was there she saw the quality that may have been so key for the team.

“Everyone was very open and welcoming,” she said. “They made me seem like I had been on the team for years.”

Her teammate Emily Murphy spent most of her freshman year injured, so not only was she unaware of what she could do, she didn’t even know what she was missing. When she started running consistently as a sophomore, her excellent performances were a bonus on top of the joy of running pain-free. She wound up seventh at the state meet, two places behind Keller.

Keller and Murphy will work to defend their state title from Bethesda-Chevy Chase, both teams losing one of their top fives to graduation. McUmber added outdoor state titles in the miles and two mile. She may, at some point, be rejoined by Caroline Beakes, a 2013 Maryland outdoor 3200 meter champion who spent essentially all of the last school year sidelined by stress fractures.

McUmber said losing Beakes threw her off her game, because she had earlier relied on her for pacing in workouts and races.

“I had never worn a watch before,” she admitted.”I spent a lot of time adjusting to not having her with me. I had to start racing on my own, with my own strategy.”

She found training partners on the Barons’ boys team, but wasn’t crazy about their tendency to kick at the end of every interval.

“I guess that’s how boys run,” she said. “My dad always tells me to focus on what I can do myself, my time, not place, and work from there.”

The Barons finished just four points behind Walter Johnson at the state meet, so if anything is a certainty this season, it’s a competitive team race.

Northwest’s Diego Zarate and Whitman’s Evan Woods finished close to each other at big races, with Woods edging Zarate at the cross country state meet for fourth place, but Zarate gaining the edge in the outdoor 1600 in 4:15.95. He also won the indoor state meet in 4:21.83, and was third in the outdoor 3200 in 9:36.44.

Woods likes a fast race with a stacked field, a situation that gives him a chance to hang on and get in a good position toward the end.

“I think I have a pretty good kick, so as long as I have a shot at winning, I’ve run a pretty good race,” he said.

That kick comes from his focus on the mile — he only ran the two mile once this spring — a distance he likes because it’s short enough to really race hard but long enough to work in some strategy. He was the outdoor state runner up in 4:16.47. His father ran for North Carolina, and his guidance prompt Woods to switch from soccer before he started his freshman year at Whitman.

Woods’ teammate Amir Khaghani relishes the chance to go places when he runs.

“I like starting in Bethesda and running the trails down to Georgetown,” he said. “I get some food then take the metro home.”

Though his cross country 5k times hovered around 17 minutes last fall, his 3200 improvement in the spring has him aiming for a drop. He finished fifth at the state meet in 9:49.76. For a guy who was running 21 minutes for a 5k as a freshman, it’s quite a drop.



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