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O’Connell claims sixth straight WCAC girls’ cross-country title

By Carl Little,

O’Connell won the girls’ Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship and Gonzaga locked up the boys’ Saturday in Reston.

Senior Devin Nihill, who will play lacrosse at Drexel next year, fell short in her bid to capture her second straight individual title, but showed grit and leadership by competing on the injured shin that has hampered her for most of the season. Her runner-up finish in 20 minutes 25 seconds was the spark O’Connell needed to collect an astounding sixth straight title. In fact, the Knights took three of the top six positions and put all five scorers in the top 15 on a warm and windy day at Lake Fairfax Park. Good Counsel, Holy Cross and Bishop Ireton followed.

“Really, on paper, we were pretty much even” with Good Counsel, O’Connell Coach Cindy Walls said. “It was going to be a horse race. But my girls, they love tough courses. I was so proud of them.”

Good Counsel sophomore Taylor Kozam was the individual champion, winding her way through the 5K course, one of the most daunting in the Washington area, in 20:17.

Gonzaga climbed back on top Saturday after being upended by Good Counsel last year. The Eagles won the big team trophy, their fourth in the last five years, ahead of the Falcons, Bishop Ireton and Paul VI.

Good Counsel’s Collin Crilly showed a strong finishing kick, separating from Gonzaga’s Chris Hoyle to win the individual championship in 16:36.

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