"First time I'm healthy in a really long time."
Those closest to Richard Montgomery's Garrett Suhr believe that if those words hold true, Saturday's second place performance at the Oatlands Invitational in Leesburg just scratched the surface of what he could accomplish this year.
Fans saw what Suhr was capable of when he stayed healthy and specialized in middle distance on the track in the spring. By his own admission, the 800m and 1600m regional champ is a low mileage guy. He said that he averaged 25 miles per week over the summer so a mileage bump in September made him tired in the days and weeks leading up to the Oatlands Invitational.
"I'm quite surprised I came in second because from the start my legs felt like butt," said Suhr. "We've been training kind of hard for my standards: maybe 35 miles per week or 40. I guess I'm just a little tired right now but it's September 14th. I'll be better."
The 5k race opened up with a fast 59 second 400 meters and Suhr was right at the front of that charge. He said that his legs started feeling bad and he got swallowed up by the entire Loudoun Valley team.
Said Suhr, "I was like, 'Alright, I can't let this happen.' So I just tried to stay reasonably close to them for as long as I could and they started dropping off one by one and I was getting them on the downhills."
He came through the first mile in about sixth place in roughly 4:52 which was not terribly fast by Oatlands standards. He moved up to third place by the time he crested the course's largest hill at 2.5 miles. The hill neutralized everyone in the top group as nobody was able to run away with it.
"I'm glad we all kind of went the same pace up the hill. Nobody was really kicking it so that was a good breather I guess. And then I just tried to crest it as hard as I could and catch up."
He said for that last half mile he had zero energy. It was all adrenaline. He moved into second place and said that he got really close to moving into first but Kellen Hasle of Loudoun Valley High School initiated a sprint that Suhr could not match.
Hasle won the race in 16:06 and Suhr took second in 16:11. It was the 8th fastest Montgomery County time ever recorded at the Oatlands Invitational.
Walter Johnson High School's Jenna Goldberg recorded the third fastest Montgomery County performance in Oatlands Invitational history (18:25) and Richard Montgomery High School's Charlotte Turesson recorded the fourth fastest Montgomery County performance in Oatlands Invitational history (18:29).
Goldberg implemented a strategy of patience. Her first mile was in 5:45 which put her in 14th place, but after that she was less aware of the clock and more keyed in on the runners in front of her.
Said Goldberg, "I purposefully tried to not go out too fast so I would have people to catch because that helps me when I race, so seeing each jersey just helped me refocus my mind and helped me get a little bit ahead each time."
She passed ten runners in the second half of the race including four runners in the final half mile to finish fourth overall in a new personal best 5k time of 18:25. The performance was just eight seconds slower than her former teammate Abigail Green ran at the Oatlands Invitational during the season when she first qualified for Footlocker Nationals.
Said Goldberg, "I'm just really excited because I improved a lot and I PR'd today which was exciting and it was as really hilly course...the hills were definitely a lot harder than I remembered."
The Whitman High School girls team beat all but two Loudoun County, Virginia schools in the Varsity A field and topped all Maryland teams by 14 places or more. They did so missing one of their key top 4 runners, Madeleine Blaisdell. Three freshmen and a much improved sophomore, Ana Bastos, have restocked the depth of the defending Montgomery County champion Vikings.
Said head coach Steve Hays, "We just wanted to come out here and run well and obviously beat some teams that were here from Maryland and I thought we did that and that was good. The third place finish was sort of the cherry on top. I thought there were a lot of good teams out here today and we were right there with them all."
Richard Montgomery Coach Davy Rogers thought that the fifth place overall finish by his varsity boys was the best that they had ever performed collectively at the Oatlands Invitational.
Said Rogers, "I think Garrett and honestly a couple of the sophomores have done a really good job. We've got a good group of sophomores and Elias Applebaum has done a really good job of keeping them together. They did a lot of runs together over the summer. I think they're really working well as a team right now and they have a lot of cohesion."
Rogers specifically told his boys before the race that top 5 would be a great performance for them.
Said Rogers, "A couple of our guys had what they would consider to be not the greatest races so I think that was a great result for us."