Walter Johnson High School may have been in a league of its own at Saturday's Watkins Mill Wolverine Run, but according to WJ assistant coach, Ashley St. Denis, "it served a purpose."
In between competing at the biggest cross-country meet in Washington DC and the biggest cross-country meet in New York City, the WJ Wildcats sought out a dry run on the 3A/4A West Regional XC course at Watkins Mill. That dry run turned out a little soggy, but nobody's spirits were dampened after confidence-boosting wins in almost every race.
Walter Johnson's Jenna Goldberg had nobody to race after she gained a sizable lead on everyone in the field after just a quarter mile of racing. She never let off the gas pedal and crossed the finish line in 20:43.74 on the hilly course, 41 seconds ahead of teammate Ella Gaul.
"I was just thinking about my team and what I can do to help us just to move forward," said Goldberg. "And just thinking about regionals and how I'm going to feel, so I was just treating it like it was the actual regional...I'm really happy that we got out here and did it."
The Walter Johnson girls took six of the first seven spots to win the meet with 18 points.
The Walter Johnson boys were almost as dominant as the girls, winning the meet with 31 points without their usual #1 runner. Junior Jacob Marks seized the opportunity not only to lead his team but to win his first race ever.
"It felt good," said Marks, clearly not letting the success go to his head after crossing the line first in 17:32.55.
"I'm definitely feeling more confident. I know the course better. I know where the hard parts are, like up the hills, and [I know to] make sure to work on the downhills to get the lead on people."
Marks had more company throughout his race than his counterpart in the girls race. The eventual runner-up, Brandon Lewis of Eleanor Roosevelt High School, challenged for the lead multiple times. Not wanting to let his first high school victory slip away, Marks said that he asserted himself with every challenge.
"I was thinking that I gotta keep up with him and just make sure he doesn't get a lead on me. I think a few times he tried to push in front of me, but I just kept pushing back, just made sure I was in front of him the whole time."
As for the mud, there was really only one patch that could be called treacherous and it was on flat ground. For the most part, the course was in good shape despite overnight rain and a few light sprinkles during the morning.
"Last week we did DCXC and that was insanely muddy, so it wasn't as bad [as that]," said Marks.