Walter Johnson senior Sean O'Leary had only positive things to say about Churchill's cross country team.
"They are the team to beat next year."
He quickly added, "but don't count out these guys [WJ]."
Being one of the top ranked teams in the Southeast region on Dyestat.com, Walter Johnson was expected to beat Churchill today, but Churchill's top five, with only one senior, gave WJ a good race.
O'Leary particularly commented on Churchill's sophomore first year cross country runner Zach Weinstein: "He hammered it."
Through the first mile, the lead pack consisted of six runners. There were three blue Churchill jerseys and three green WJ jerseys running evenly and fighting for position.
When the leaders emerged out of the woods for the final time into the finish area, it was a different story. O'leary and Alex Willett emerged in tandem followed closely by Ishan Dey. Only Zach Weinstein of Churchill was still pursuing the leaders, but he would be too far behind to break up the top three. Dey move up alongside his teammates and the three WJ runners swept the top three spots, all finishing in 17:05.
It was mathematically impossible for Churchill to win the meet after the 1-2-3 sweep by WJ, but Churchill runners Zach Weinstein and Tarek Elhage took the next two spots. Places 6 through 14 alternated between a Walter Johnson runner and a Churchill runner.
Walter Johnson won 20-36.
O'Leary explained that they had a hard hill workout the day before, but they responded well with another hard effort today. There was some buzz about their upcoming meet at the Octoberfest Invitational and how they would compare to the top teams from Virginia. There is more buzz about this currently in the mocorunning forum.
Not to be overshadowed, WJ's Anna Bosse ran a terrific time of 19:38.95 all alone on the difficult Cabin John Park course.
When asked about the course record, Walter Johnson coach Tom Martin admitted that he didn't remember the last time a girl ran that fast on the course and said he would probably have to go back and see what Sally Glynn ran on the course in the mid-1990's.
Bosse said she broke away from the rest of the runners on an uphill in the first half mile. By the time she hit the first mile, she was already about twenty seconds ahead of the next girl. She said the pace felt fast, but she enjoyed the nice cool air. It had rained for about thirty minutes prior to the start of the race and the temperature was not much higher than 70 degrees. She was quick to change the subject to how well her team ran.
Indeed, the WJ girls defeated Churchill by more than the boys, 20-37. Camille Bouvet outkicked Churchill's Maryam Fikri 20:04 to 20:05, and Jenna Willett and Jennifer Spencer beat out Churchill's Alex Giedd. Maria Moersen, who has missed time with injury this season, rounded out WJ's top 5 with an eighth place finish. With Spencer running as good as she has in a long time and Moersen on the comeback, the WJ girls could also be making noise at Octoberfest this weekend.