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RM Cross Country sees record performance from senior Rohann Asfaw at Oatlands Invitational

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RM Cross Country sees record performance from senior Rohann Asfaw at Oatlands Invitational

Jude Jones

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For many RM students, the idea of long-distance athletics triggers horrifying memories of the middle school mile and pacer tests. Few students were good at these notorious events, and even fewer enjoyed them. But what happened to the select group of kids who did both enjoy and excel at running? This past Saturday, they went to Leesburg, Virginia to compete at the Oatlands Invitational meet.

At the Oatlands Invitational, over fifty schools came to try their best runners against stiff competition over a difficult course. These athletes would run 5,000 meters up and down hills; over numerous terrains, around curves, past a degrading silo and through a creek. Although this course may sound intimidating, many runners prefer to run on a challenging course, citing it as engaging and thus motivating.

Joachim El-Masry and Garrett Suhr (Photo by MoCoRunning)

Joachim El-Masry and Garrett Suhr (Photo by MoCoRunning)

“It’s a special race because there’s a lot of competition and it’s a very historic meet.” remarked Rohann Asfaw, who won with a time of 15:47, the second-ever winner from Montgomery County. “Nature was feeling itself man. It was overcast, cool, and there was a breeze. It’s better because [your] body doesn’t overheat and it’s just easier on the body.”

As fast as Asfaw tends to be, his reputation almost always precedes him. His status as a cross country heavyweight has made him something of a local celebrity. While cheering on teammates in other divisions, a runner from another school went out of his way to announce: “Rohann, you’re my hero.”

Other noteworthy races were run by freshman Garrett Suhr and junior Joachim El-Masry – who crossed the finish line at 17:39 and 17:40, respectively. Senior Philip Miljanic set a personal record with his time of 17:53. The remaining RM Varsity Boys – Nicholas Olano, Nathaniel Stucky and Connor O’Brien – all finished under the 19 minute mark.

However, while the boys varsity competed well in the A race, the RM girls’ team was not to be outdone, finishing second in the B race. Led by junior Nefret El-Masry, returning after an extended absence, who won third overall in a time of 20:50 in her first race of the season. The top 5 finishers all finished in the first 35 places, giving Richard Montgomery a highly competitive edge. The finishers included freshman Michelle Campano (9), senior Madeline Cheng (28), junior Jasmine De La Vega (31) and senior Taylor Balfour (35). This strong showing included two personal records and two season records, with Campano dropping a whopping 50 seconds off her previous record. This meet demonstrated the potential of the girls team, competing on a difficult course, against difficult competition.

Nefret El-Masry (Photo by MoCoRunning)

Nefret El-Masry (Photo by MoCoRunning)

The 2016 cross country season is a crucial time for the future of RM track; some incredibly talented runners start and end their careers this season. The Oatlands Invitational was just the fourth of eleven meets scheduled for the Richard Montgomery cross country team. From dual meets to invitationals to championships, the RM cross country team is garnering significant attention in Montgomery County.

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RM Cross Country sees record performance from senior Rohann Asfaw at Oatlands Invitational