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Cross Country County Championships

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Cross Country County Championships

Dagmawi Dereje

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The Montgomery County Cross Country Championship meet was this past Saturday, October 22nd in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This meet featured all the cross country runners from every high school in the county, and was the final race of the season for all junior varsity athletes.

The meet was hosted by Gaithersburg High School at the neighboring Bohrer Park for the fourteenth straight season. The looping course, which is largely composed of open, grassy fields and paths by a pond, is quite favorable to runners. It has no major uphills and a decently sized downhill. The course is organized so that competitors run the downhill three times and the gradual uphill just twice. The weather was an issue for all of the races, as there were 30-40 mph gusts that runners were forced to fight through as they raced. In the end, though, both of RM’s cross country teams teams had performances indicating a bright postseason ahead.

The girls’ team, without Michelle Campano and leader Nefret El-Masry, was led to a twelfth place finish by sophomore Lauren Zhou (24), junior Jasmine de la Vega (49), and freshman Natalie Koldaro (66). Campano was in the middle of her breakout freshman season when she suffered a season ending injury while training for the meet. So far in this setback-plagued season for runners such as El-Masry, Campano, and senior Xochi Cartland, younger runners like Zhou and Koldaro have stepped up to lead this team. Zhou, especially, has been a consistent top four runner for the team when it has needed her the most. Rounding out the girls’ top five were sophomore Emma Bassett (72) and senior Taylor Balfour (73). Bassett and Balfour, who finished together, both set personal records at this meet.

Photo by MoCoRunning

Photo by MoCoRunning

The boys’ team continues to be full of pleasant surprises. Star senior Rohann Asfaw won the county meet for the second season in a row as he works towards the looming regional and state championships. Despite his huge win, Asfaw’s competitive nature had him disappointed after failing to set the course record, off by nine seconds. Even though the boys were without freshman Nicholas Olano, who suffered a stress fracture in his leg while training for the postseason, the 2-5 runners still helped Richard Montgomery finish sixth in the county with their stellar performances. Freshman Garrett Suhr (11) and junior Joachim El-Masry (12) finished together, with junior Nate Stuckey (66) and sophomore Connor O’brien (95) not too far behind. Suhr continues to impress, as the fastest freshman in the state of Maryland, he seems to just keep getting faster. El-Masry, on the other hand, is returning to his form from last season after many of his performances have been held in check by a variety of injuries and illnesses this year. After his race, El-Masry said he felt good about how he ran, especially given his recent injury problems. El-Masry takes his pre-race preparation process very seriously, but he has had to change it in order to accommodate this injury. “Because of my injury,” he said after the varsity race, “I can no longer wear my regular racing shoes.” He later added that he tries “to avoid walking around too much before [his] race so [his] feet don’t hurt.”

Photo by MoCoRunning

Photo by MoCoRunning

Although the season has come to an end for most of Richard Montgomery’s cross country runners, championship season is just starting for the varsity athletes. Come support your varsity runners next Thursday, November 3 at the Montgomery County 4A West Regional Championships!

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