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WJ girls claim fourth straight cross country state championship

HEREFORD – The Walter Johnson girls cross country team won the 4A state championship for the fourth year in a row Saturday at Hereford High School with 59 points, topping second-place Wootton’s score of 118 points.

Meanwhile during the boys races, Poolesville junior Ryan Lockett won the individual 3A championship with a time of 16 minutes even and Richard Montgomery senior Rohann Asfaw (16:04) beat out Bethesda-Chevy Chase junior Adam Nakasaka (16:12) for first place in the 4A competition.

According to Walter Johnson Head Coach Tom Martin, the girls' team victory meant runners "achieved their goal."

“When the team's going for its fourth, it's a lot of pressure,” he added.

Martin said the previous time the lady Wildcats won their fourth consecutive cross country state title in 1999, the girls were relieved more than happy because they put extreme pressure on themselves.

He pointed out this year's team never mentioned state championships during the season.

“They saw they had work to do and they did their work,” Martin said.

Although defending 4A state champion Maria Coffin of Annapolis finished first again for the second straight year with a time of 17:49, Walter Johnson junior Abigail Green finished runner up for the second year in a row, leading the Wildcats’ top five.

Green said she was content with being runner up because she improved her time from last season’s championship and finished closer behind Coffin.

Walter Johnson senior Katrinone Kirsch (seventh place, 19:38) and juniors Sadie Keller (13th, 20:10) and Janet Scott (16th, 20:19) all cracked the top 20 while junior Sophia Scobell (20:28) rounded out the top five by placing 21st among runners competing on a team.

Sophomores Helena Abbott (20:50) and Anita Lonnberg (21:29) also completed the course for the Wildcats.

Montgomery County placed five runners in the top 10, including Churchill senior Julia Reicin (19:06) in third, Wootton sophomore Jessica Trzeciak (19:36) in sixth and Paint Branch junior Yasmine Kass (19:43) in ninth.

In the 3A boys race, Lockett said the challenge came near the end of the race.

“I didn't really feel it till the last 800 meters when we really picked it up,” Locket said. “The person next to me really pushed.”

River Hill senior Rahul Reddy (16:02) ran up between Lockett and his team mate senior Andrew Lent, finishing second. Lent (16:13) placed fourth.

Lent said he kept up with Lockett most of the race but was not able to speed up with him at the end.

“I was pretty much spent by the time I got to 800 meters to go,” Lent said.

Lockett said he improved this season partly from practicing with Lent.

“He pushed me all season and without him I would not be where I am now,” Lockett said.

In 4A competition, Asfaw placed second in the state last year. He said the course is the most challenging one he’s run of the year.

“It’s by far the hardest,” said Asfaw. “So many twists and turns and changes in elevation.”

Einstein junior Simeon Mussie (16:42) was the only other local runner aside from Asfaw and Nakasaka to break the top 10 during the 4A race, placing eighth.



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