Cross Country state meet

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Cross Country state meet

Dagmawi Dereje

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Richard Montgomery’s cross country teams finished an amazing season on Saturday, November 12 at the Maryland State Championship hosted by Hereford High School in Parkton Maryland.

The RMXC teams qualified for states by finishing in the top seven teams in the Regional meet at the 4A West Region Championships in Gaithersburg. In that meet, the girls finished seventh, just meeting the qualification standards to continue to states, and the boys team boys placed second. At Regionals the girls were led by sophomore Lauren Zhou (19) and junior Nefret El-Masry (20), while the boys were led by senior Rohann Asfaw (1), freshman Garrett Suhr (5), and junior Joachim El-Masry (12).

Hereford’s 3-mile course is one of the most difficult races Maryland XC runners compete in during their high school careers. The course has no stretches of flat ground and even features a large dip, the bottom of which competitors have difficulty seeing on their run down. The athletes have to run down the dip and back up on two separate occasions during the race. Additionally, the blustering wind affected the performance of athletes throughout the race. However, Richard Montgomery’s runners came prepared for the tough course.

Suhr said that coming into the race, “the strategy was to relax on the first mile and save up some energy for the next two miles where the big hills were to pass people who were tired.”

Photo by MoCoRunning

Photo by MoCoRunning

The RM girls were led by their promising group of young athletes. Zhou (23) was once again a strong first place runner for Richard Montgomery, crushing her 3-mile personal record set back in September by almost four minutes. Zhou has worked extremely hard to move up the ranks on this team, despite only joining cross country as a Sophomore.

The rest of RM’s top five girls finished in quick succession, with Nefret El-Masry (44), Junior Jasmine De La Vega (49), Freshman Natalie Koldaro (57), and Sophomore Emma Bassett (82) as our 2-5 scorers as they led their team to a tenth place finish out of the 22 girls teams that qualified for the state meet. This success will hopefully be replicated next season and beyond, as the team’s top five had no seniors and just two juniors.

Photo by MoCoRunning

Photo by MoCoRunning

Richard Montgomery’s boys team also had a very successful performance at Hereford, with their top three runners all finishing with medals in the top 25. Asfaw (1) was the heavy favorite coming in and he met expectations at this meet. He is the first Richard Montgomery athlete to win the XC State Championship since Tim Sonner who won 30 years ago in 1986.

Garrett Suhr (13) and Joachim El-Masry (21) had quite impressive performances as well. Both ran outstanding races and were able to reach peak form for championship season, especially considering Suhr’s lack of experience and El-Masry’s constant injury.

Looking at the season in hindsight, “I did not think I would even make varsity at the beginning of the season because I was just starting to run again after a few weeks of not running because of a strained ankle. I was just hoping to stay healthy and try to get back in shape,” said Suhr.

The boys top five was rounded out by senior Philip Miljanic (87) and junior Nathaniel Stuckey (94). These performances led the Richard Montgomery boys team to a seventh place finish in the state, their best finish since also placing seventh back in 2013.

Although the team season is over, our top individual athletes will compete again at the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast Regional meet in Cary, North Carolina. Asfaw, Suhr, and Joachim El-Masry will make their way down to North Carolina to try to qualify for Cross Country Nationals. For the rest of the team though, it was a great season that showed the great potential for Richard Montgomery Cross Country in the years to come.