Only moments before Wednesday’s Concorde District cross country finals at Burke Lake Park, the race moderator asked, ‘Robinson, Robinson … are you racing?’”
In cross country, white boxes are sprayed on the grass and each team must align itself within two of them. Immersed in a team ritual, the Robinson boys team was too busy to hear the moderator’s question.
When all seven runners were finally set, Robinson provided its answer.
“We were ready,” said a smiling Jared Berman, who won the Concorde District individual title with a time of 15 minutes, 22 seconds on the 2.98-mile course. “This whole week, we concentrated only on the race. Every 10 seconds, I was thinking about districts.”
The Robinson boys team finished five points behind first-place Oakton, bolstered by a fourth-place finish from Stuart Steen (15:38).
“In school [Wednesday], we were all so excited,” said Steen, after pausing to acknowledge the furry Ram mascot that traveled to Burke Lake Park. “I actually was standing up in the middle of class and shaking out my legs, getting ready for the race.”
Loosening up appeared to be the key for Robinson’s girls team.
After trailing Herndon’s Hiruni Wijayaratne by nearly 10 seconds with less than a mile to go, Robinson’s Stephanie Bray powered ahead and swiped the girls individual title with a time of 18:22.
Bray’s race plan dictated that she save herself until the end, and with about a minute and a half left, Bray made her move.
“I had no idea I was going to be back that far, and then I was running and I thought, ‘I think I can do it. I think I can do it,” said Bray, who contributed to the team’s district title as the Rams bested Herndon, 52-40. “We wrote ‘Believe’ on our hands because, as a team, nobody thought we were a threat. And we just knew we could do it.”
<b>IN THE LIBERTY DISTRICT</b>, Jefferson’s Alex Witko won the boys individual title, holding off Woodson’s Cameron Keys (16:01) for the title. Witko finished with a time of 15:58.
“This is just crazy,” said Witko, who lives in Springfield. “If you would’ve told me my freshman year that I was going to win districts during my senior year … I would’ve laughed at you.”
Behind Witko and Keys, Jefferson claimed six of the next eight finishers, winning the team title with only 19 points. Woodson finished a distant second with 52.
“We’ve had a weird season. For one reason or another, we haven’t really brought everything together,” Witko said. “We’re where we need to be right now.”
Stephanie Marzen, also of Jefferson, won the girls individual title, posting a time of 18:01. The Jefferson girls team also won the team title, holding off Woodson, 25-64.
The National and Patriot Districts will have their cross-country championships Thursday, Oct. 23, at 3:15 p.m. at Burke Lake Park, and the Northern Region meet will be Thursday, Oct. 30 at Burke Lake as well.