In nearly four full seasons, Eleanor Roosevelt senior Niki Behrns had not lost a single cross-country race to a Prince George's County opponent. But that streak was in peril last Wednesday at the county championships--Behrns had reinjured her pulled right quadriceps in the Eleanor Roosevelt-Laurel soccer game the day before.
It didn't matter. Behrns won her fourth consecutive county title, finishing the 3.1-mile course at Fort Washington Park in 20 minutes 9 seconds.
Her efforts helped the Raiders win the girls team title with 32 points, well ahead of second-place Largo (75 points). Behrns's freshman sister, Krystle, finished second for Roosevelt and fourth overall in 21:15.
Niki Behrns will shoot for her fourth consecutive regional title Thursday at the Maryland 4A South meet, also at Fort Washington Park.
"After I injured [my quadriceps] against Laurel, I could feel it when I was walking, so I did not know if it was going to bother me during my race," Behrns said. Winning "was more of a relief coming to the finish line because of all the pressure coming around. I just felt everyone expected me to win."
Behrns was reinjured with two minutes left in the first half for the 8-5-1 Raiders. Behrns, a defender, came out of the game at halftime with Eleanor Roosevelt leading, 1-0, but didn't stay on the bench. With 20 minutes remaining, the Raiders had fallen behind, 2-1, and she started warming up.
"[Behrns] started to pull off her sweats and I had not even asked her [to get ready]," Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Diane Casey said. "I had to tell her to sit down to not risk further injury. I knew she had the county championships in cross-country the next day. . . . She doesn't care if she is hurt and the team is down, because she is a fighter."
Behrns didn't return to the Laurel game, but after the cross-country championships, she and her sister rushed over to Largo for a soccer game against No. 5 Good Counsel, which the Falcons won, 4-0. Double duty is nothing new for Behrns; she usually does a cross-country training run after her two-hour soccer practices during the week.
"I just want to make what I'm doing what the rest of the [cross-country] team is doing," Behrns said. "I may not do the same exact workout, but I will go out and do some miles."
After the regional meet, Behrns will go to the Maryland 4A cross-country championships Nov. 13 at Hereford High School. She finished second in the state as a sophomore and 12th last season, dealing with the effects of a lingering cold.
"I'd like to be definitely in the top five, but I would really like to finish [in the] top three," Behrns said.
"[Behrns] is a tremendous competitor and an excellent athlete who can maintain that edge and endurance to dominate race after race, year after year," Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Bill Kurtz said. "She knows this is her senior year and her last shot, and she wants to go out strong."
Note: Northwestern senior Dwayne Thomas, one of the Washington area's top middle distance runners, showed his versatility as he won the boys title at last Wednesday's county meet by finishing in 17:43. Five Northwestern runners placed in the top 15 for a winning team total of 42 points. Bowie was second with 78 points.
Prince George's County Championships Oct. 27 at Fort Washington Park
Top teams Points
1. Northwestern 42
2. Bowie 78
3. E. Roosevelt 97
4. Friendly 113
5. Suitland 118
Top finishers Time
1. Dwayne Thomas, Northwestern 17:43
2. Nate Brunson, Friendly 17:47
3. Leon Snyder, Largo 17:48
4. Matt Bettencourt, E. Roosevelt 17:54
5. Peter Ramdial, Bowie 18:00
6. William Marshall, Northwestern 18:03
7. Randy Smith, Northwestern 18:13
8. Justin Head, Largo 18:21
9. DuWayne Aikins, Bowie 18:27
10. Isaiah Reams, Suitland 18:33
11. Greg Rawlins, Bladensburg 18:36
12. Garnelle Cross, Friendly 18:38
13. Aaron Payne, Northwestern 18:42
14. Tim Riley, Suitland 18:43
15. Erik Dixon, Northwestern 18:52
16. Brian McReynolds, Bowie 18:59
17. Fred Brown, Suitland 19:04
18. Darjush Boushehri, E. Roosevelt 19:07
19. Romeo Twalla, Northwestern 19:10
20. James Mitchell, E. Roosevelt 19:11
Top teams Points
1. E. Roosevelt 32
2. Largo 75
3. Laurel 93
4. Bladensburg 128
5. Friendly 179
Top finishers Time
1. Niki Behrns, E. Roosevelt 20:09
2. Keiona Frenche, Laurel 20:59
3. Ryann Holmes, Largo 21:09
4. Krystle Behrns, E. Roosevelt 21:15
5. Krystal Perkins, Douglass 21:23
6. Katie Hilton, E. Roosevelt 21:43
7. LaTia Kirby, Oxon Hill 21:57
8. Simone Baptiste, Laurel 22:14
9. Kadija Razzak, Laurel 22:45
10. Asha Haji, E. Roosevelt 23:01
11. Crystal Anyanwu, High Point 23:13
12. April Butler, Gwynn Park 23:14
13. Denice Liggens, Bladensburg 23:21
14. Alicia Pease, E. Roosevelt 23:24
15. Lakisha Brooks, Largo 23:27
16. Julie Ocampos-Barry, Bowie 23:29
17. Laura Soto, E. Roosevelt 23:34
18. Rashonda Van Ness, High Point 23:57
19. Jessica Williams, Bowie 23:58
20. Denise Montgomery, Central 24:01