It was an historic day on Saturday when Rohann Asfaw of Richard Montgomery High School and Abigail Green of Walter Johnson High School each qualified
for high school cross country national championship meets.
NXN Southeast Regional
Rohann Asfaw of Richard Montgomery High School became the second male runner from Montgomery County to qualify for NXN. The first was Andrew Palmer who
qualified twice in 2008 and 2009 with times of 15:16 and 15:21.5. Asfaw ran 15:15 on Saturday which makes him the new fastest all-time performer from
Montgomery County on the Cary, North Carolina NXR (Nike Cross Regional) 5k course.
Other top performers from NXR were Yasmine Kass of Paint Branch High School whose performance of 18:40.1 ranks 7th all-time among Montgomery County
runners, and Adam Nakasaka of B-CC whose performance of 15:55.2 ranks 15th all-time among Montgomery County runners.
The four-time state champion Walter Johnson girls team competed without their #1 runner, Abigail Green and finished 17th of 30 teams in the seeded girls
The complete list of NXN qualifiers from Montgomery County remains a short one. Just four individual athletes and no teams have qualified for NXN, now
in the meet's tenth year of running qualifying races.
Andrew Palmer, Whitman 2008, 2009
Jessie Rubin, Wootton 2009
Nora McUmber, B-CC 2013
Rohann Asfaw, RM 2016
The list of Top Montgomery County Performers at the NXN Southeast Regional is here.
Footlocker Northeast Regional
Abigail Green of Walter Johnson High School became the second female from Montgomery County to ever qualify for Footlocker Nationals. The only other
Montgomery County girl to qualify for Footlocker was Sally Glynn of Walter Johnson High School, who, despite winning four cross-country state titles,
only qualified for Footlocker Nationals once in 1994.
The list of male and female Footlocker/Kinney Nationals qualifiers from Montgomery County is still a very short list.
Pascal Dobert, Whitman 1991
Sally Glynn, Walter Johnson 1994
Solomon Haile, Sherwood 2008
Abigail Green, Walter Johnson 2016
The list of male and female Footlocker/Kinney Nationals qualifiers from Maryland is short enough that I will post here:
Maryland Footlocker Finalists All-Time
1983 John Scherer 12 Dayton, MD Glenelg HS
1983 Charles Cole 12 Chaptico, MD
1991 Pascal Dobert 12 Walt Whitman Bethesda, MD
1995 Cory Smith 12 Calvert Hall Phoenix, MD
1995 Nick Gramsky 12 Northern Chesapeake Beach, MD
2001 Ben Stern 12 Georgetown Day School Potomac, MD (Lived in MD, School in DC)
2006 Matthew Centrowitz 12 Broadneck High School Arnold, MD
2008 Solomon Haile 12 Sherwood H.S. Silver Spring, MD
2009 Cory Puffett 12 DeMatha HS UpperMarlboro, MD
2016 Dalton Hengst 11 McDonough, York PA (Lived in PA, School in MD)
2016 William Merritt 12 Smithsburg, HD, Smithsburg, MD
1990 Amanda White 10 Dulaney Cockeysville, MD
1991 Amanda White 11 Dulaney Cockeysville, MD
1992 Amanda White 12 Dulaney Cockeysville, MD
1994 Sally Glynn 11 Walter Johnson Rockville, MD
1994 Kristen Nicolini 12 Annapolis, MD
2006 Alison Smith 12 Atholton H.S. Columbia , MD
2011 Hannah Oneda 12 Winters Mill H.S. Westminster , MD
2015 Maria Coffin 11 Annapolis H.S. Annapolis MD
2016 Maria Coffin 12 Annapolis H.S. Annapolis MD
2016 Hayley Jackson 12 Patuxent HS, Lusby, MD
2016 Abigail Green 11 Walter Johnson, Bethesda, MD
2016 Julien Webster 12 Catoctin HS, Thurmont, MD
As you can see from the lists above, it is rare for a Maryland athlete to qualify for Footlocker Nationals. It is even rarer for a male and female from
Maryland to qualify in the same year (1991, 2006). For two males and four females from Maryland to qualify in 2016 is nothing short of an explosion.
For four girls from Maryland and one girl from Washington DC to qualify for FLN with another Maryland girl in 13th place is unprecedented. I tried to
pinpoint a comparable performance by Maryland ladies at Footlocker Regionals.
Maryland had a running boom in the early-to-mid 90's which included a Footlocker National title by Dulaney's Amanda White in 1992 and a runner-up
performance by Sally Glynn in 1994. Star runners Kristen Nicolini (Annapolis), Christy Nichols (Arundel), and Krissy Jost (Perry Hall) contributed to
the boom with track and cross country performances that put Maryland on the national map. Those five runners still dominate Maryland state record books to this day, but they were sometimes in different classifications and didn't always race well on the same day.
Even with all that talent, there was only one year prior to this year when two Maryland girls qualified for Footlocker Nationals out of the same race (1994). I checked out 1992 and 1994 and mostly every
year since then (I couldn't find 1993). Rarely did Maryland have five girls in the top fifty at the meet. 1994 seemed to produce the strongest Maryland
performance in Footlocker Regionals history with three girls in the top ten (only the top eight individuals qualified for FLN then).
1994 Footlocker Northeast Regional
2. Sally Glynn, Walter Johnson, 17:25
8. Kristen Nicolini, Annapolis, 18:16
10. Christy Nichols, Arundel, 18:29
17. Jacquelyn Hayes, Linganore, 18:41
33. Suzy Burr, R. Montgomery, 19:12
2016 Footlocker Northeast Regional
3. Maria Coffin, Annapolis MD 17:59.8
5. Page Lester, Washington DC 18:04.7
6. Hayley Jackson, Lusby MD 18:05.1
9. Abigail Green, Bethesda MD 18:08.2
10. Julien Webster, Thurmont MD 18:08.8
13. Kelly Wesolowski, White Hall MD 18:29.7
I throw in Page Lester of National Cathedral School because she is this year's DC-MD state champ and she competes in most of the same meets as MoCo and
Maryland teams throughout the year. The times from Van Cortlandt Park course are not exactly comparable because the course has changed around a bit over 22 years, but
I'd say that we are experiencing the new golden era of girls distance running in Maryland.
One tradition that I enjoy is checking out the Footlocker Regional team scoring by state. It is rarely acknowledged in this area and probably not much
cared about even among states that top the standings. The focus of the meet is on the individuals, but Footlocker has been scoring the Footlocker regional results for a long time.
For a Maryland cross-country fan, nothing is more eye-opening than checking those Footlocker Regional team standings for the first time to see that
Maryland's all-star crew of public and private school champions finished outside of the top five. You realize that some of our headline-grabbing state
champions in Maryland don't even crack the top 50 when matched up against an elite Northeast field. That's when you realize that America is a very big
place, and there is a next level of elite that you couldn't previously fathom.
And so I have checked the Footlocker Regional team standings year-after-year for about fifteen years with decreasing expectations. Maryland can't
compete with New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, but did we at least beat Delaware, Vermont, and Maine?
In 2016, Maryland did the unthinkable. The Maryland girls won the team scoring in the seeded race at the Footlocker Northeast Regional. Certainly the
rival NXN meet has something to do watering down the Footlocker Regional Meet since 2007, but NXN is not that new anymore. Maryland girls cleaned up
this year like never before. If they weren't running like teammates, I have to believe that seeing so many familiar faces in the lead pack helped
Maryland rise to the challenge. Now, thousands of Maryland running fans will get to tune in to see familiar faces like never before when it is webcast
on December 10.