Every team has a pre-race ritual. It could be as simple as handshakes or as intense as a 1980's punk rock mosh pit. The Bethesda Chevy Chase boys cross country team gets down on one knee to listen to their homegrown motivational speaker, Greg Picard.
Last year, Picard took it upon himself to prepare a customized pre-race speech for every race. The speeches were usually light-hearted and funny, but he took it seriously enough that he jotted key points on paper on the bus rides to meets.
In today's annual preseason Blue and Gold Intrasquad Scrimmage, Picard set the tone for the blue team by asking teammates to once again take a knee. In 60 seconds, Picard presented a coming-of-age speech, a challenge to his teammates' manhood, and a denunciation of vegetarianism all at the same time.
"Who are we?!" he screamed.
In that moment, we were all B-CC.
Sophomore Caroline Beakes made her high school cross country debut and took the win in 20:00.
Beakes joins the defending 4A state champion cross country team after playing JV soccer in her freshman year simply because she enjoyed running more than soccer.
When asked what she thought about her first cross country race, she said, "It was fun...more interesting than track...better than running around and around."
Not far behind Beakes was Abby Fry who finished in 20:19. It took almost a minute before Nora McUmber and Laura Nakasaka finished in 21:14. McUmber looked particularly relaxed, clearly not activating that long, hard drive to the finish that we grew accustomed to seeing last year.
Emily Hardgrove was fifth in 21:56, which was not surprising according to Coach Chad Young.
"[Hardgrove] was at camp. She works really hard. I'm hoping she continues to put pressure on the other top girls."
Kat McNeill was notably absent. Young referred to McNeill as "a rock" and expects her to run around the same times as Fry.
The boys' team also had a notable absence from the race, even though he was helping at the mid-way point of the course. Rising sophomore Sam Baker was diagnosed with double stress fractures in his shins shortly after running camp. He will not resume running for three more weeks.
A pack of four boys stuck together for about a mile and a half according to Peter Horton. At that point, Horton broke away to win by a comfortable 31 second margin in 17:24. It was not the usual B-CC home course and there were reports of pedestrians and pets impeding the runners on the narrow park trail.
Alex Riishojgaard, Nicholas McGreivy, and Nolan Ebner finished together in 17:55-17:56. If Baker can catch up with that pack by the end of the year, B-CC will have a formidable top 5, but either way, B-CC seems to have found a new varsity member of the team in junior Guesh Haile. Haile finished fifth in his cross country debut in 18:38.
Let it be recorded in Mocorunning history that Greg Picard's blue squad was victorious.
When asked about expectations for post-season performance, Coach Chad Young said that he was only thinking about the main part of the season first.
"We want the boys and girls to be in contention at the state meet. If we keep everyone healthy at the end, we think we can do that."