Burke Lake Park was a cold, wet and muddy stage for the Nov. 4 Northern Region cross country championship meet. Sloppy conditions provided the area’s top harriers a reason to groan and an excuse for failure. Meanwhile, West Potomac’s Dale Lescher was having some fun, rubbing mud on the face of her head coach, Jenn Dietz.
The Wolverines figured every competitor had to deal with the weather. Why not embrace it?
"I know a lot of people went into this race thinking, ‘Oh, man, this is gonna stink,’" Lescher said. "We love this weather. … This is our kind of race."
West Potomac shined on a cloudy day with the boys winning the regional title and the girls finishing third. The boys scored 78 points, six better than second-place Lake Braddock. The girls scored 108 points, six behind second-place Thomas Jefferson and 37 behind meet winner Lake Braddock.
"You don’t have to have any kind of specific strategy, you’ve just got to go in with the mindset that the weather’s the same for everybody and the toughest person is going to come out on top," Dietz said. "I think they were excited for the conditions. It makes it real cross country. You can’t worry about things like times, you’ve just got to go out there and compete for places."
No runner exemplified the toughness Dietz referred to better than junior Brady Corum. Standing 5 feet 3 and weighing less than 100 pounds, Corum placed seventh individually, recording the West Potomac boys’ best time of 15 minutes, 44.7 seconds. Corum said he felt sick for parts of the last month, but came out determined to perform at regionals.
"Last year, coming in, we were just hoping we could get to states," said Corum, whose Wolverines placed third at last year’s regional meet. "This year, [we came in] with a lot more confidence. It was always in the back of our minds in the beginning of the season. To come and actually do it, it feels really good. …
"I’m a pretty small and scrappy guy. It definitely helps to be light [when running in the mud]. You can really thrive off the weather. The rain can really get you pumped up. The mud is fun to run through."
Corum’s performance came one week after he placed 12th at the Patriot District meet.
"Brady is definitely a tough competitor," Dietz said. "He’s had some big races and he’s kind of toughed it out when he’s not feeling his best. He’s just a very solid and sturdy kid. He kind of gets counted out sometimes because of his size, but he’s definitively one of the top runners."
Benjamin Aleixo finished 15th for West Potomac with a time of 15:57.1. Mark Hanak finished 19th (16:09), Marc Lotterie was 24th (16:15.4) and Corey Rosenberg was 29th (16:18).
"Winning regionals is great for these boys," Dietz said. "They’ve worked really hard — some of them for four years. Brady Corum really stepped up and had a good race and I think that made all the difference in having someone break into the top 10."
Sarah Underwood was the top finisher for the West Potomac girls, placing eighth with a time of 18:31.3. Lescher was 11th with a time of 18:36.71, Sophia Passacantando finished 26th (19:01.7), Colleen Boyle was 29th (19:05.6) and Samantha Miller finished 41st (19:29.5).
While the girls matched their third-place finish at last year’s regional meet, Lescher put forth an individual best.
"This had been one of my goals since I started high school — I wanted to get all-region," Lescher said of her top-15 individual finish. "It was definitely great to finally reach that."
The state cross country meet is on Nov. 13 at Great Meadows.