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State Recap Part II
By: Kevin Milsted
webmaster@mocorunning.com
2017-11-13


Montgomery County came home with three individual state champions and a team title. Abigail Green of Walter Johnson High School, Adam Nakasaka of Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, and Ryan Lockett of Poolesville High School each turned in championship performances while Damascus's Heather Delaplaine was the surprising runner-up in the 2A race.

To read more about Abigail Green and the five-time state-winning Walter Johnson girls, see the separate article on WJ's unprecedented journey.

Primal Scream

B-CC's Adam Nakasaka let out a primal scream for the ages as he crossed the finish line in 15:50.63. His winning time in the 4A classification was the fastest time across all classifications.

Said Nakasaka, "That was just crazy, you know. I've imagined it so many times. It was just running through my head the whole year, and then to finally accomplish that: it was just so much. It meant so much."

In addition to playing his future achievement on repeat in his mind, he said that he used last year's race film to develop his strategy.

"I've been watching replays of last year's state meet, and I think right after the second mile I just made a really good move and it was just me and Rohann then. So I knew I wanted to do the same thing coming into this race. I did that and just separated from them right there. I picked up the pace at the top of that soccer field and just never looked back from there."

B-CC Head Coach Chad Young captured the exact moment where Nakasaka made his decisive move. Young posted the clip live on Twitter during the race:



Above you should see a three second clip of Nakasaka's decisive move, but it may not render properly in every browser or if you have a slow connection. That was the exact moment that Nakasaka broke away from Howard's Nicholas Deamer and Severna Park's Garrison Clark.

After crossing the finish line, Nakasaka was finally done playing second fiddle:

"Last year was a year of seconds. I got second place here. Second place indoor two mile, outdoor two mile, and Rohann was always ahead of me the entire time. Just this entire year I've been working towards getting the state title. And like seriously it was just a feeling of finally I've accomplished that after coming up just so short of it each time before, so it was just phenomenal."

"Hills Suck"

There is a saying in pro sports that when you do something great: act like you've been there. Poolesville's Ryan Lockett was a returning cross-country state champion and he acted like it. His demeanor following the 2A race was calm and sentimental, which stood in stark contrast to Nakasaka's raw explosion of emotion.

That's not to say that Lockett did not care deeply about the moment.

Said Lockett, "It means something really special to me because the first time I did it, it was amazing and that's basically the beginning of how I became a great runner and how I've developed. It means a lot to come back here and do it again. It's just really special."

Lockett thought that his race started slowly and he was happy to feel out the pack for the first mile. On the second half of the course, he broke away along with Calvert's Justin Diehl. Lockett said that the two swapped leads multiple times. He usually gained the lead on downhills while Diehl usually regained the lead on uphills. Lockett gained the lead on the most important uphill: the final run up the dip.

"I'm not really a hill runner," said Lockett. "I've said that a lot, but...hills suck. And I'm sure I'm not the only one that thinks that, but yeah, definitely my legs were a little tired coming up the dip the second time, but I just had enough in me. I just wanted to make sure I had just in enough just in case Justin Diehl, who's actually a really great runner, had a final push up to me."

Lockett fended off his opponent over the final quarter mile to win the 2A state title by three seconds, 16:13.07 to 16:16.55.

"I love cross-country and I've had an amazing two years, three years running cross-country for Poolesville and I can't thank my coach enough. He's been a huge aspect in everything. All my teammates...have really helped me out and it's been awesome and I can't thank Poolesville enough."

Lockett hopes to qualify for Footlocker Nationals in two weeks, but first he must finish top ten in the regional qualifying race. He knows that more hills await him in NYC.

Go Get 'Em

Poolesville's Nandini Satsangi made the 2A state race what it was. She helped to push the pace early and broke away so that she ascended the dip for the final time with a commanding lead. Unfortunately, her legs gave out just after she crested the infamous hill. She had such a lead and she tried for ten...maybe twenty seconds to keep moving forward, but she continually fell to the ground. Runners with more steam moved by her swiftly, and it became apparent that it was not her day.

Damascus's Heather Delaplaine was nowhere near the leaders at that point in the race with less than half a mile remaining.

Said Delaplaine, "My goal honestly was just top ten...During the second mile, I was looking for first place and I couldn't even see them. So I was like, 'Oh, I'm going to settle for at least fifth.'"

Delaplaine is known in track circles to have a good half-miler's kick. She is, after all, a state champion in the 4x800-meter relay. But nobody, especially her, expected what happened next.

"I got up the little hill before the finish and I was like, 'I can see four people ahead of me. I'm going to go get 'em!' They were, like, really far ahead. I don't know how."

Using the aid of a steep downhill just prior to the finish line, Delaplaine picked off runners in rapid succession until she was two strides from the leader. The finish line came too soon. She finished second in 19:41.79 behind Emily Konkus of Hereford High School (19:40.44).

"I'm really happy. I'm kind of bummed because I didn't know that I was that far ahead. I thought that I was in fifth or something...and then all of a sudden I was in second and I was like, 'Oh my God. I need to go. And I'm kind of bummed that I didn't..."

She did not finish that sentence.

"But I gave it my all. I'm really happy."

Coldest Meet Ever?

There is no doubt that it was one of the coldest state meets ever with early morning temperatures in the low twenties. It was about 27 degrees for the first race at 10:00 AM and about 37 degrees for the first race in the afternoon at 1:30 PM. It was an arctic blast for runners, officials, and fans who grew accustomed to temperatures in the 70's and 80's for nearly the entire season, but the breeze was calm and the sun was out. Could it have been worse?

Gaithersburg High School Head Coach Herb Tolbert is not a weather encyclopedia, but he has been to about 43 of these things. He believed that this weekend ranked as the #2 coldest meet behind the 1991 state meet, which was held in Westminster at Western Maryland College (now known as McDaniel). Tolbert described the 1991 weather as frigid with cloudy skies and snow.

Let's fact-check Tolbert's memory, shall we?

The Montgomery Journal reported frigid conditions in its state meet coverage that year. So far, so good.

Wunderground.com reports on November 9, 1991 a low of 33 degrees, high of 43 degrees, with average winds of 13 MPH, max winds of 16 MPH and rain at BWI airport that day. It certainly would have been a few degrees colder and snowing in Westminster.

For Saturday, November 11, 2017, BWI Airport reported a minimum of 21 degrees, a maximum of 39 degrees, average winds of 3 MPH and max winds of 12 MPH. No precipitation.

2017 was technically colder than 1991, but the sun and calm winds made it more bearable, especially later in the day. With a swift breeze and precipitation, it's no wonder why Tolbert still believes that the 1991 state meet ranks #1 as coldest in his memory.

Speaking of Coach Tolbert, Gaithersburg High School won the MPSSAA Sportsmanship Award for the 4A classification. The award was voted on by 4A coaches.

Injury Update

Richard Montgomery's Mark Unger and Northwood's Eldon Phillips were held out of the state meet due to hamstring tweaks/tightness. Both track stars are expected to be ready to go for track season.





Article Comments - Add A Comment

NameComment

westner
2017-11-16 12:18:31

congrats Coach T! I'm so happy for Adam to finally get his first state title. I have a strong sense that this is not going to be his only one. He's been one of if not the gutsiest runner around for years now. He's never shown any fear and always gives his all. The consistency that he's shown is incredible. He's always there for every race, never not running because of some tweak or pull or anything like that. Loved seeing that photo of him screaming, he's been so good for so long and now he's finally getting what he deserved for so long...great job Adam, it's your state, go get what's yours!

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