At the beginning of the 2017 cross country season, I boldly predicted that the Wootton Patriots’ boys team would win the county title. While we ultimately finished 15 points out of first place and took home second in the county championships, the performance definitely took some of the county by surprise and gave us momentum going into the postseason. Today, I’m revisiting my preseason projections and highlighting my best and worst picks.
Worst: Whitman boys finish fifth
In my preseason projection, I ranked the Whitman Vikings fifth, noting that “they’ll need to develop depth to crack the top five.” By placing five runners in the top 35, the Vikings certainly did that, even without senior Josh Engels.
Best: Top five boys, girls teams
Other than Whitman, my predictions for the county competitions were spot on. Taking out Whitman, my predicted order of teams in the top six: Wootton, B-CC, RM, Northwood, Einstein. The actual order in the county championships: Wootton, B-CC, RM, Einstein, Northwood. On the girls side, I nailed the top four girls teams.
Worst: Incoming juniors on the boys’ side
Two guys in my grade messed up my boys’ individual ranking. I should’ve seen Mark Unger’s stellar debut cross country season coming, as I noted that he would “fill Rohann’s shoes” yet finish outside the top ten. His two sub-15:40 5Ks and third place finish at counties exceeded my expectations. I didn’t know about Einstein’s Noah Clifford, who ran a stellar 15:51 at counties.
Best: Top twenty individual boys
The official MocoRunning ballot ranked the top ten individuals, but I took it a step further and did a top twenty. 15 of the 20 runners I picked actually placed in top 20 at counties, and that’s considering injuries to Whitman’s Josh Engels and Northwood’s Eldad Mulugeta. My 11-20 picks were mostly accurate, including picking teammate Mitchell Fanger to finish 20th (he finished 18th), Quince Orchard’s Chris Thoms to finish 15th (he finished 12th), and Gaithersburg’s Peter Antonetti to finish 14th (he did, indeed, finish 14th).
Worst: Individual senior boys
All three of the boys I picked to make my top ten that didn’t finish in the top ten at counties were senior boys. Engels was injured, while B-CC’s Josh Fry and RM’s Joachim El-Masry, both top ten finishers in the past, finished 19th and 23rd, respectively. Fry and El-Masry have the experience to turn in around by regionals and states.
The cross country season has three weeks left with the 4A West Regionals and 4A State Championship on the schedule. Here’s to a great finish to an exciting season!