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Local cross country athletes qualify for state championship at regional meet

GAITHERSBURG –Local teams and individual runners qualified for the high school cross country state championship at the regional championship for 3A West and for 4A West at Watkins Mill High School Thursday.

Boys 4A West

Perhaps the most competitive race of the afternoon was won by Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School senior Adam Nakasaka – the 2016 state runner-up – with a time of 16 minutes and 26 seconds. Nakasaka was followed by Richard Montgomery sophomore Garrett Suhr, who came in second 14 seconds later. Nakasaka’s individual victory allowed B-CC’s team to win the meet with 88 points,  a one-point advantage over their crosstown rivals at Walt Whitman High School, who scored 89.

“Overall the race felt pretty slow,” Nakasaka said. “I know the course is difficult, but just in terms of how I felt, like I felt completely fine throughout the entire race. It didn’t feel particularly fast, and that’s pretty much what it was.”

His two goals were to win individually and for his teammates to run close to keeping up with him during the first mile.

“It was really to compete for the win and make sure that my team you know got out to a good start,” said Nakasaka, later adding, “We just wanted to get out before the bottleneck kind of started.”

He found himself in the lead after the 2-mile mark, and he chose to maintain the pace the front pack of runners had been running.

Then, with less than a mile remaining, he accelerated.

“Coming back down to come up here I started to push a little more, and I thought that some of the guys were going to come with me, but... they didn’t and I just started to pull away pretty easily.”

He rounded a hairpin turn and cruised to the finish. He said he saw Richard Montgomery sophomore Garrett Suhr out of the corner of his eye, and that there was a gap between them. 

“He was further back than I would have anticipated,” Nakasaka said.

Next week, “(Nakasaka’s) just running to win and just have fun in my last state meet,” he said. “It’s been a really great three years so far, and I’d love to cap it off with a state title.”

Clarksburg High School runners made school history in the 4A race when both the men’s and the women’s teams qualified for the state meet this year, Clarksburg coach Scott Mathias confirmed.

After county coaches presented ribbons to two of the Coyote runners who made the top 15, another local coach confirmed the Clarksburg boys’ seventh-place finish qualified them to compete at the state championship.

Upon hearing the news, members of both teams hugged in celebration. Several of the Lady Coyotes covered their mouths with surprise or used their hands or shirts to wipe tears from their cheeks.

“We wanted to be the team that made a difference, that made a gigantic name for the cross country team and I feel like we were successful,” said Zachary Worthman, a junior and one of the teams captains. Worthman placed sixth in his race, finishing in 16:59.

Senior Jackson Kilosky (15th place, 17:28), another Coyote team captain, said during the race he was unsure whether the Coyotes would make the cut, as he wasn’t aware if teammate Sam Eig -- normally one of the team’s top seven runners, and Clarksburg’s fourth-fastest finisher at the County championships -- had finished the race. Eig, who was listed as finishing 64th by several websites which track Montgomery County running results, was taken away from the course in an ambulance, according to several observers.

“We did this for Sam,” he said of his teammate, who will be able to race at the State meet thanks to his teammates’ efforts.. “He’s going to be able to run with us.”


Girls 4A West

The girls’ 4A race was won by Montgomery County champion and 2016 state runner-up Abigail Green of Walter Johnson, In her first race on the Gaithersburg course, the Wildcats senior placed first in the girls 4A race with a time of 18:45, and was followed by her teammate, WJ senior Janet Scott, who finished second in 16:40.

Green said she and her teammates were hoping to win the regional meet, which head coach Tom Martin said would be the fifth year in a row, and they did. The Thomas S. Wootton girls team (2016 state runner-up) placed second in the meet.

Green added that the Lady Wildcats’ next goal is to win the state championship for the fifth year in a row. The hills and slanted sections of the Gaithersburg course were helpful preparation for the hilly state championship course in Hereford, she said.

Girls 3A West

James Hubert Blake freshman Ella Jacobs won first place in the 3A girls race, finishing in 21:31, with North Hagerstown High School freshman Phoebe Meehan coming in second with a time of 21:47.

The 14-year-old Blake freshman told the Sentinel she had wanted to make sure she took first place because it was her teammate and sister Claire’s senior year. For encouragement, her coach had showed her a website which projected regional leaders’ performances in the race based on their personal records. The site’s projections predicted she might win the race, and Jacobs didn’t want to let her team down.

Her individual effort ended up leading her team to snag the fifth of five qualifying slots for the state championships by besting the team of Col. Zadok Magruder HS by a single point.

Boys 3A West

Jacobs’ teammate, 18-year-old Blake senior Evan Pollack, finished ninth in the 4A West region and first in the County for the boys 3A race with a time of 18:01. Pollack’s individual effort was enough to qualify him for a third individual shot at the state championships, his fourth overall. He was the only County runner to crack the 3A boys top 15.

Pollack said the goal for his final appearance at the state meet is to finish in the top 25, which would earn him a medal.

“Medaling has been my goal since sophomore year,” Pollack said.

Like Jacobs, Pollack’s individual tome helped his team to qualify for the state meet, with the sixth-lowest score of 12 teams.

The boys 3A race was won by Linganore High School junior Michael Belmaggio, whose time of 16:49 beat only his  sophomore teammate Kyle Guinn by 17 seconds.

The top 50 percent of teams in the regional races qualify for the state championship, as do the top 25 percent of individual runners, according to the 2017 Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association bulletin. The seven lowest cross country team scores of 13 teams qualify for the state meet. 

Qualifying Montgomery County teams

4A girls

  1. Walter Johnson                 56 points
  2. Wootton                             67
  3. Walt Whitman                    72
  4. Richard Montgomery        113
  5. B-CC                                 136
  6. Clarksburg                        148

4A boys

  1. B-CC                                  88
  2. Whitman                            89
  3. Richard Montgomery         116  
  4. Wootton                             117
  5. Churchill                            141
  6. Northwest                          141
  7. Clarksburg                         161

3A girls

  1. Blake                                  154

3A boys

  1. Blake                                  158

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