"Last year we made it to states. The teams that we beat out...they are working to get back."
Coach Herb Tolbert addressed his varsity boys at the end of practice.
Gaithersburg was only the 8th 4A West team at the Montgomery County Championship Meet in 2011, but beat out a less than full strength Richard Montgomery team by five points to take the final state-qualifying spot at the 4A West Regional Meet. Gaithersburg's reaction at the awards ceremony was as much surprise as it was celebration.
"Now that we are on that track, we've got to stay on it."
Tolbert is now in his 40th year coaching at Gaithersburg High School. He began in the spring of 1973 and says that he has not missed a season.
The Gaithersburg boys were not always the team on the bubble. Under Tolbert's guidance, the Trojans eased into the state championship meet for 12 consecutive years between 1997 and 2008 and won a state title in 2000.
Aaron Anderson was a member of the state-caliber Gaithersburg teams in 1999 and 2000. He is now helping Tolbert as assistant coach and brings a special dynamic to the team. Anderson is the ultimate extrovert. He cracks jokes and finds ways to connect with even the quietest kids on the team.
"It is so great to have a guy like Aaron to pal around with the kids," Tolbert explains. "I know I don't connect with them like I used to, but I still love coaching."
The boys team returns five runners with varsity experience, four of which were present for the team's time trial. The time trial was approximately two miles on the county championship course, but the distance was not measured.
Danniel Belay led the team by over a minute in 10:51. Mustapha Diomande, Bernie Rosenthal, and Vito Vallone finished in 12:05, 12:15, and 12:21. Trevor Stepek was absent but Tolbert expects him to fill out the top five and possibly be the #2 guy.
On Belay, Tolbert said, "He is a runner now. He quit basketball and is only focused on running. He will be a top guy at every race."
Alsia Plybeah was the top female, finishing the course in 14:35. There was a two minute gap to the #2-4 girls and another two minute gap to the #5 girl.
Gaithersburg's turf football field appears to be complete and the brand new track was being treated as shown in the photo above. The expected completion date for the track is the first week of school. Tolbert is hopeful that Gaithersburg can hold a large meet on the new 8 lane track, perhaps even the outdoor county championship meet at some point in the future.