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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Cross Country takes off for regionals with county championship title

Girls cross country gets ready to launch towards their first place trophy at counties.
Photo courtesy Annie Linkie
Girl’s cross country gets ready to launch towards their first place trophy at counties.

The Walter Johnson Cross Country team gave it their all at the 2023 Montgomery County XC Championship at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, Maryland on Saturday, Oct. 21. The team has been working incredibly hard all season, and it certainly paid off: the boy’s team placed 7th, and the girl’s team won. Everyone on the team competed at this meet, and almost everyone on the team had season best times.

In addition to dropping time, individuals from Walter Johnson placed high across the board. Senior Calix McCormick placed 5th in the Boys’ Varsity 5000 meter run, with a time of 16:24. senior Alex Kallmes placed 42nd with a time of 17:32, and junior Jasper Goldstein was 45th with a time of 17:33. All three of the boys had season bests, and placed high among the other 221 athletes. As for the girls, senior Mackenzie Raue placed 3rd in the Girls’ Varsity 5000 meter run with a season best time of 19:22, with her sister, junior Megan Raue, not far behind in 5th with another season best time of 19:26. Junior Maddie Simmons placed 13th with a seasonal best time of 20:02 and her teammate freshman Mirae Denaro followed shortly behind her in 14th place. The girls placed extremely high, with nine athletes in the top 50 out of 183 total runners in the varsity category.

“My counties performance wasn’t my best, but I’m so proud of what the team was able to accomplish and I was so grateful to be a part of such a dedicated, deserving group of girls,” Simmons said. “The reason we were able to get first was our depth. Having Mackenzie and Megan in the top five was so important for our score, and the fact that we had so many girls close behind was also crucial.”

While placing so well at counties was no small feat, there were other results that were concerning.
“This meet was a big deal because it determined who goes to regionals and states. The top 12 runners from counties for each gender have continued practicing, and the top seven will run,” sophomore Annie Linkie said.

Every runner on the team runs at counties, so any athlete has a shot at qualifying. The team is loaded with extremely driven athletes, and they all worked hard to earn a spot. Now that counties have passed, the regional lineup has been set, and the team has been working extremely hard to bring back another first-place title.

“There was a lot of competition for spots for regionals and states, but…we have known all season that only seven girls will be able to compete. This year in particular was much more competitive than it has been in the past because we had 10 girls going into the meet who were all close in time,” senior Beth Fogg said.

With the end of the quarter, senior athletes fighting to meet the November 1st application deadlines, and training for regionals, there is a lot of pressure on the team’s shoulders. However, it seems that they’ve got it covered.

“We definitely had a very hard practice week,” senior Zuzana Huserova said. “I think we’ve all just been focusing on taking it day by day but also keeping our goals in mind. Personally, I’ve been kind of struggling to manage school and college applications so it’s been a bit hard.”

Coach Tom “Marty” Martin has created a healthy atmosphere for the runners to encourage them to keep pushing, even when it’s hard. There is a consensus among the team that it’s important to take things slow, one step–or mile–at a time.

“Just take it one [day] at a time…and try to get everything out of the sport as the season dies down. Our coaches focus on creating a strong team of girls that can all succeed,” Fogg said.

Evidently, the ideal ‘strong team of girls’ has been created, and they’re tapering to make sure they run their best.

“This week we’re just trying to take it a bit easier to make sure we’re ready for Thursday!” Huserova said. “I think the key to success at regionals is making sure we remind ourselves what we are capable of and have trust in our own abilities!”

While physical training is crucial to a successful race, it’s also extremely important that athletes have a good mindset going into it. Thus, the girls are going into it with optimism and positive mentalities. While the girls took second to Wootton’s Cross Country team last year, they are confident that winning is a serious possibility.

“The key to winning regionals will definitely be being confident on the hills since it’s such a hilly course. I’m really looking forward to the team coming together to be successful!” Simmons said.

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Sophie Linkie, Online Opinion Editor
Senior Sophie Linkie is excited to do her first year with the Pitch as an Opinion Editor. In addition to her interest in journalism, Sophie enjoys swimming, nature, and loves dogs.
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