GAITHERSBURG, Md- Champions share a lot of qualities: their mindset, their drive, and most obviously, their accomplishments. On Oct. 7, two champions shared something more- their shoes. Wootton teammates sophomore Joe DeJong and freshman Jeffrey Riker, who took the gold in their respective races at the Wolverine Run at Watkins Mill High School, ran in the same pair of blue and yellow Saucony spikes after Riker left his pair at home. Those first-place finishes were just two of the highlights of a thrilling and hilly meet that featured domination across the board by the Wootton cross country Patriots.
Girls’ Varsity: In the opening race of the Wolverine Run, the Patriots first scored a victory in the girls’ varsity race by a razor-slim margin- a single point. Wootton’s depth was on display with six girls in the top 12, spearheaded by junior Jessica Trzeciak (3rd, 20:07) and followed by a pack of four girls who placed 7th through 10th. The girls topped the Broadneck Bruins a point and continued an alarmingly awesome season.
Boys’ Varsity: Despite the absences of three varsity runners, the shorthanded boys’ varsity team was competitive from the start and finished just five points out of first place. Junior John Riker placed second in a photo finish, while the trio of juniors Richard Qiao (5th, 17:26), Joseph Pohoryles (12th, 17:57), and Meehir Bhalla (14th, 18:11) finished in the top 15. The boys hope to carry over their momentum into the postseason.
Girls’ Junior Varsity: The JV girls were competitive from the start, taking turns in the lead in the opening mile and never letting up. The team snatched second place in the competition thanks to a pack of four girls that finished within 15 seconds of each other in places 4 through 7 and another two who also finished in the top 10.
Boys’ Junior Varsity: Running in his own pair of Saucony spikes, sophomore Joe DeJong led from wire-to-wire, dropping below 19 minutes and earning his first career victory. The rest of the Patriots were close behind, with five guys placing in the top six to give the Patriots their second team win of the day.
Freshman Races: After an emotional moment prior to the freshman races, the inspired youngsters left their competition in the dust in the joint boys-girls freshman race. Jeffrey Riker (18:59) and Emma Helgeson (22:10) won their respective races and their teammates ensured that team victories would be Wootton’s. The boys placed eight runners in the top 10, while the girls had the top six finishers in the race. Unsurprisingly, both the freshman squads won their races by astronomical margins.
The Patriots will look to put an exclamation point on the season at the 2017 Montgomery County Championships at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg. If the impressive performances at the challenging Wolverine Run were any indication, Wootton is a team no one will want to face.