Montgomery County teams returned to the Oatlands Invitational in full force this year, and for the first time in six years a Maryland team brought home a varsity A title. Not since the Northwest High School girls won the inaugural Oatlands Invitational in 2005 had a Maryland team taken home the title. This year the Whitman girls won in dominant fashion, scoring 153 points to Osbourn Park's 246.
Whitman's top three of Anna Ryba, Caroline Guiot, and Alexandra Phillips remained patient among a large field of runners, some of whom completed the first mile in under 5:45. Whitman's top three would move up in the latter half of the race and complete the 5k course in under 20:00. Phillips, who finished third for Whitman and 22nd overall in 19:46, was stronger than the #2 runner for all but one team.
What sealed the victory further was a breakout race by freshman Nicole Ihrie. Ihrie had been the number six runner for Whitman in the previous several races but dropped over thirty seconds off her personal best to finish fourth for Whitman in 39th place overall in 20:08.
Caroline Elmendorf, who has been the consistent number four runner, finished fifth for Whitman in 20:45.
No Maryland boys team has ever won the varsity A race at the Oatlands Invitational, but the Churchill boys certainly showed their strength on a day when they were less than full strength. Churchill finished third, just 6 points behind Chantilly, and 57 points behind Albermarle, which is a highly ranked team in the Southeast region.
Chantilly won the Monroe-Parker Invitational earlier in the week, making them an early season favorite in the northern Virginia area. In comparing Churchill to Chantilly, Chantilly took the first and third overall spots at Oatlands while Churchill's top two were 19th and 30th. However, Churchill had Chantilly beat soundly at the #3, 4, and 5 spots. In a smaller field (certainly in a dual meet), Churchill would match up more favorably.
Freshman David Fitzgerald led the way in the early going for the Churchill boys, but perhaps the freshman was too excited in his first major race and faded to third on the team and 44th overall. Even still, his time of 16:53 is quite the debut for a first major race. His only previous races were a scrimmage and relay race. Fitzgerald, Will Conway, and Luke Shannon either did not start or did not finish in a dual meet three days earlier due to various nagging ailments. Zach Weinstein and Dan Valero are also working through nagging injuries, so basically six out of the top seven guys are less than 100% at this time.
Churchill's freshman Lucy Srour was the breakout athlete of the meet. Early in the preseason, the Churchill coaches gave notice that Srour would be a good runner, but they had no idea how good at that time. She was deprived of the first scrimmage at Landon due to a freak accident prior to the race which required stitches in the hand. With each passing workout, and then with performances at the Woodward Relays and a dual meet with Northwest, the Churchill coaches became more and more aware of how good she was. Still, no one was prepared for what she did at Oatlands.
Through the first mile in the varsity A race, Srour was fearlessly right at the front of the pack. Coming through the mile in under 5:40, it was the fastest mile she had ever run. Pushing onward, you could say that she "faded" to seventh place in the latter half of the race, but she still defeated all Maryland athletes including another great freshman at Urbana and Maryland's defending 4A state champion, Anna Ryba.
Not to be forgotten, there were several notable performances in the varsity B races including a winning performance by Georgetown Prep's Joey Chapin. Chapin's time of 16:23 was the fastest time of the day by a Montgomery County runner (one second faster than Good Counsel's Jack Riely in the A race).
The Richard Montgomery boys won the varsity B team title.
Days removed from a doctor's visit with flu-like systems, Richard Montgomery's Elena De La Paz led the varsity B girls race through the first mile and ran to finish third overall in a time of 19:46.