In a low key meet with about twenty teams at Urbana High School, the Poolesville boys and girls were the strongest of the six Montgomery County teams in attendance. The Poolesville boys finished fourth of eighteen teams and the girls finished seventh of sixteen teams. Poolesville's Nandini Satsangi won the girls individual title while Poolesville's Ryan Lockett was second in the varsity boys race.
Excluding MCPS mid-week dual meets, this was the first individual win by Satsangi at an invitational cross country meet.
"This is a pretty big accomplishment," said Satsangi.
Satsangi wanted to compare her time at Urbana (19:03) with her time at the DCXC Invitational a week ago (18:25), but she quickly realized that the two meets had little in common for comparison. The Urbana course featured a major "dip," if you will. There was a long steep downhill followed by a daunting uphill that the athletes ran twice. Even more, there was a light misting rain for most of the afternoon, and mud was a factor.
"It's very muddy," Satsangi laughed after she competed in the third of four races at the meet. "I could feel the mud was suctioning my feet and I thought my shoe was going to fall off at one point, but I'm very pleased with this race."
From the beginning, she created separation from the field along with Howard's Courtney Mann. Satsangi admitted that she didn't know anything about her opponent but could feel that she was pretty strong. Mann is actually one of the strongest runners in Maryland and had defeated highly ranked Montgomery County runners Claudia Wendt and Yasmine Kass already this season.
Satsangi pushed up the first major uphill to create separation from Mann after the first mile. She believed that hill-running was her strength. Mann hung on in the second mile but Satsangi pressed forward and eventually found herself all alone. It was a convincing win on a challenging course in adverse conditions.
Poolesville Head Coach Prasad Gerard was all positive when it came to the muddy and hilly conditions.
"I actually was really pleased with the course," said Gerard. "...it drained well so that was fine. I liked that there was a big puddle in the middle so they had to run through it and be real cross country runners. Overall I thought it was a pretty good course."
Whether or not the course "drained well" is up for interpretation, but it was definitely "real cross country," to borrow a term from Coach Gerard.
Poolesville had another major contribution from freshman Logan Rohde. Her third place finish in 19:52.84 exceeded expectations.
"Logan the freshman just keeps on coming on," said Gerard. "She's racing better. She's putting her eyes on people and pulling them in."
The boys race was won in equally convincing fashion by Micah Hewitson of Linganore High School who crossed the line first in 16:11. Lockett of Poolesville outkicked a tight pack to claim second place in 16:30. His teammate Andrew Lent was trailing the pack and finished sixth in 16:45.
"Ryan really was going for it," said Gerard. "He really had it on his mind and he wanted to make sure people knew he was here and ready to run. He really powered down the downhills. Andrew...probably not his best race. His best race will come, but he still ran well."
Gerard explained that Lent missed a Saturday race last week at the DCXC Invitational due to a bee sting that swelled up earlier in the week. They didn't want to chance it at DCXC, but they let him go today. Exactly how much of a setback that was is uncertain.
Gerard continued, "And some of the guys in the back went out a little too fast...but they all put out a good effort. They attacked the course and that is going to be helpful for them when they run regionals."
Notably absent today was Damascus's Heather Delaplaine. Damascus head coach Jason Bozicevich said that she was on a family trip, but he pointed out that eleventh place Alexis Whitehorn-Corez (20:34) continues to improve at a rapid rate.
Gaithersburg's Elise Durr finished twelfth and head coach Herb Tolbert said the he is hopeful that she can make states by the end of the year, but he knows how tough that is in the 4A West. Tolbert also said that he saw coming Peter Antonetti's breakthrough 16:57 performance at the Spiked Shoe Invitational a week ago and that he is another state-hopeful, but Antonetti is battling a nagging injury which explains his inconsistencies. He finished in just 18:10 today in 45th place.