Blazers outrun Blue Devils on their home course
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. PARK, Oct. 9—
Both the girls' and boys' cross-country teams raced past the Springbrook runners to earn victories in their final dual meet of the regular season. The undefeated Lady Blazers (5-0) trumped the Blue Devils (1-2) at their own Martin Luther King, Jr. Park with a score of 23 to 38, while the boys (3-2) secured their win with a score of 17 to Springbrook's (0-3) score of 44.
First to finish the girls' race was Springbrook senior Sydney Almeida, whose time of 19:32 set an official record for female runners on the 3-mile course. Almeida beat the former Martin Luther King, Jr. Park record, set in 1991 by Kennedy runner Tanya Watson, by twenty-eight seconds. Spectators cheered for Almeida, the daughter of Blair music teacher Norma Abdul-Rahim, as she celebrated her emotional victory.
The first Blair runners raced in behind Almeida, with junior captain Morgana D'Ottavi and sophomore Natalie Gradwohl claiming a respective second and third with times of 20:40 and 20:41. Although D'Ottavi and Gradwohl finished behind a Springbrook runner, they clocked amongst the ten all-time fastest times of female runners on the course.
Sophomore Nobel Girmay placed first in the boys' race with a time of 17:52, just thirty-six seconds behind the Blair boys' record set by Steve Bettis in 1991. Head Coach Charlie Demma acknowledged Girmay's potential and expressed high expectations for his future. "He's good,” Demma said. "He'll be even better if he trains more.”
Girmay was closely followed by junior Michael McKee, with a time of 17:56, and senior captain Michael Ekstrom, whose time of 17:57 closed up a Blazer-only top three.
The Blazers dominated the entire meet, with seven Blair runners finishing in the top ten of each race. Demma saw this team victory as more than just another collective ‘W'. "It wasn't hard to win,” he said, citing the runners' superior performances as the culmination of their individual efforts this season.
Despite the extensive preparation and the brisk fall weather, the course itself was a welcome challenge to the runners. Very different from the Blazers' home course at Wheaton Regional Park, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park course winds around a lake, through the woods, and up a steep hill. The almost entirely pavement Martin Luther King, Jr. Park course adds to the difficulty level according to D'Ottavi. "It really works you,” she said.
Ekstrom was proud of the teams' performance and hard work against Springbrook. "It was excellent,” he said.
Both teams look forward to their next meet, the annual Down County Consortium (DCC) Championship, which will host the boys' and girls' cross-country teams from all of the high schools in the DCC. Ekstrom believes that the Blazers' victories against Springbrook showed that both teams are poised to succeed at the DCC. "We already have solid packs on the boys' and the girls' teams,” Ekstrom said.
Although both teams hope to follow up their victories against Springbrook, the girls especially have a reputation to uphold. "The girls have never lost [the Championship],” Demma said.
The girls' and boys' cross-country teams will run against Northwood, Kennedy, Einstein and Wheaton in the Down-County Consortium Championship at 9:20 and 9:55 on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Northwood.
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