While not having an individual finish in the top 10 would appear detrimental to the West Potomac boys cross country team’s ability to defend its title at the Monroe Parker Invitational, the Wolverines’ depth proved otherwise.
What West Potomac lacked in flashy finishes the Wolverines made up for with consistency. Each of the team’s five point-scoring harriers finished in the top 25 as West Potomac repeated as meet champions on Sept. 11 at Burke Lake Park. The Wolverines posted a score of 84 points, 32 better than second-place South Lakes.
Senior captain Benjamin Aleixo was West Potomac’s top finisher, placing 11th with a time of 16 minutes on the 2.98-mile course. Senior captain Mark Hanak finished 14th with a time of 16:05, junior Brady Corum was 17th (16:12), senior Khoki Berneir finished 19th (16:14) and sophomore Marc Lotterie came in 23rd (16:23).
"We felt pretty confident in our team’s ability to do well this meet," Aleixo said. "It gives us a lot of confidence going into the regional meet. It gives us a lot of confidence in our ability and our training."
First-year West Potomac head coach Jenn Dietz was an assistant under Don Beeby when the Wolverines won in 2009.
"It’s nice to come back here and win it again," she said. "The boys that ran here last year improved on their times; that was nice to see. We didn’t have anyone in the top 10 — that’s something that needs to get worked on — but we had some nice depth."
Aleixo was one of the runners who competed last season. He said he would like to record a sub-16-minute time on the Burke Lake course and a time in the low-16-minute range on a 5K (3.1 miles) course. As a team, Aleixo said the Wolverines want a place on the podium at states.
"I feel a lot more confident in my ability," he said. "Last year I was a little unsure of myself coming in. I feel a lot more confident this year [about] what I can do."
Lake Braddock finished third with 141 points, followed by Thomas Jefferson (175) and Hayfield (206). Mount Vernon finished 21st out of 30 teams.
Chantilly sophomore Sean McGorty was the individual winner with a time of 15:17. Lake Braddock senior Sam Rubenking placed second with a time of 15:26, followed by Annandale junior Ahmed Bile (15:28), Woodson junior Paul Gates (15:30) and Lake Braddock senior Luke Sohl (15:37).
Mount Vernon senior Connor Rowell finished 28th with a time of 16:30.
IN GIRLS ACTION, West Potomac finished second with a score of 86 points. Meet winner Thomas Jefferson scored 44 points, with three top-10 finishes and each harrier finishing in the top 16. The Wolverines were 36 points better than third-place Lake Braddock.
Junior captain Sarah Underwood led the way for West Potomac with a fifth-place finish (18:26). Junior captain Dale Lescher placed 13th (19:07), sophomore Sophia Passacantando finished 20th (19:18), junior Samantha Miller came in 21st (19:18) and junior Colleen Boyle finished 28th (19:40). Passacantando was hurt during an early pile-up, but once the race re-started, she jumped back in the action.
"I think they did very well," Dietz said of the West Potomac girls — a team with no seniors. "… They’re doing well for where they are, there are just a lot of good teams they have to compete with."
Lake Braddock sophomore Sophie Chase was the individual winner with a time of 17:32. Edison senior Myah Hicks placed second with a time of 18:04, followed by Jefferson harriers Lisa Junta (18:12) and Sarah Stites (18:26).
Mount Vernon senior Katja Rowell finished 25th with a time of 19:30.