When asked why he races at the Sandy Spring Friends School Scrimmage, Good Counsel High School head cross country coach Tom Arnold listed eight reasons why he finds the unscored preseason meet at the school one mile down the road useful.
Among reasons listed, he explained that, "it allows us to compare the amount of improvement, or lack thereof, for our returning athletes at the start of the season," and "since we have run there for many years, it lets me see where our teams stand relative to years past."
Absent from his reasons for running at the scrimmage was the word "fun."
The race had no official scores and no official timing. Coaches were responsible for timing their own athletes. I can only report the winning boys and girls times that I was able to catch while shooting photos: Jimmy Vazzana of Good Counsel was the first male finisher in 17:20 while Claudia Wendt of Good Counsel was the first female finisher in 20:54. The Good Counsel boys clearly would have dominated the meet with seven of the top ten finishers had there been team scores.
Vazzana said that the race felt nice and that he pulled away from his teammate George Drewyer mostly in the final mile. Vazzana says that he is still adjusting to becoming the lead runner on the team after having Jack Wavering and others to follow for three years.
"It's definitely very different," said Vazzana. "Especially having Jack last year who absolutely killed us every single run and now I gotta be the one to do that. So it's definitely different and I'm still adjusting to that. We're getting there."
Whatever Coach Arnold saw on his clipboard shortly after the race made steam shoot out of his ears.
"I'm rather disappointed," said Arnold.
It is all that he would offer in explanation for his agitation.
Though it was impossible to tell for certain in an unscored co-ed race, Sherwood High School coach Dan Reeks felt that his girls team may have topped Good Counsel had there been official invitational scoring.
"Today we finished as a pretty solid group," said Reeks about his girls team. "I thought that our girls - had it been invitational scoring - might have beaten Good Counsel because they seemed to be broken up; however they probably put three in front of our one."
Having graduated four-year #1 runner Amanda Hayes-Puttfarcken, Sherwood now looks to be competitive by way of pack-running.
"We're really trying to pack them up," Reeks continued. "They ran that way in camp. They ran really strong...We're young, but the juniors have run together for three years. It will be exciting for them."
Genevieve Zillich and Leah Peloff should be among the team leaders, but Sherwood has a slew of returning girls in the 22 minute range or faster for 5k.
As for the boys team, Reeks says that he expects the team to gel late in the season and to once again qualify for states out of the 4A North. He added that he believes they should improve on last year's 13th place team finish at the Montgomery County Championship Meet.