There is a defining feature on the Churchill cross country course aptly named "The Wall." It is a long sharp incline beyond the midway point in the race. Suitably, several runners chose "The Wall" as the ideal spot to surge and break the race wide open.
There was reportedly a pack of over ten of the top runners together near the two mile mark. WJ's Josh Ellis led for nearly the entire race, but the team battle was not shaking out. Cresting the wall, the pack thinned out. Ellis surged and created a wide gap on the field. Churchill's Luke Shannon surged past about a half dozen runners into second place.
Wootton's David Levine and James Ertel also surged, but that was the last time they saw teammate Joshua Trzeciak. Trzeciak took an awkward step and aggravated his achilles. He would not finish the race which took away Wootton's chance of keeping the race close.
Shannon continued to surge until the gap between he and Ellis disappeared. Shannon momentarily took the lead in the race as the runners returned to the park in view of spectators near the finish line. Ellis shook him off to take the win on the difficult course in 17:11. The runner-up finish was certainly one of the best efforts in Luke Shannon's high school career.
Churchill's freshman David Fitzgerald outkicked teammate Will Conway which gave Churchill a decisive lead with three of the top four spots. Conway later explained that he flew to Brown University for a visit after the Bull Run Invitational on Saturday. He was understandably tired with little time to sleep in the previous three nights.
Walter Johnson took four of the next five spots against Churchill, but Churchill's Matt Kogan sealed the victory 25 to 30 by placing tenth in the race against Walter Johnson and twelfth overall (Ertel and Levine of Wootton were 8th and 10th overall).
Coach Paul Jacobson was thrilled with the way his guys ran as they improved to 3-0 in the division with QO and Sherwood remaining on the schedule. On Zach Weinstein's injury, he said it was almost a blessing in disguise because Weinstein can rest and should still have about six weeks to peak at the right time. Weinstein said he is going to try to race this weekend at the Great American XC Festival in North Carolina.
Churchill freshman Lucy Srour led the girls race the entire way to win in 20:38. Forty four seconds back in second place was Walter Johnson freshman Melanie Cirillo who was coming off a win in the freshman race at Maymont.
Wootton proceeded to claim nine out of the next eleven spots. Needless to say, the Wootton girls got the double victory to improve to a record of 4-1. They will wait to see if Churchill and/or Sherwood can defeat the Quince Orchard girls next week with the division title on the line.
Coach Kellie Redmond was happy with the winning performance of the girls and loves the depth on the team, but sometimes the depth is a blessing and a curse. The finish order of the top ten girls has varied widely in each race this season. While Wootton had a few JV runners run faster than varsity runners at the Bull Run Invitational, Redmond is hopeful that the order of varsity runners will shake out for when the decision becomes more crucial later in the season.