A one-two finish by Gaithersburg seniors Zach Martinez and Ryan James at Saturday's Bull Run Invitational cross-country meet only hinted at how strong a team the Trojans believe they can be.
The Trojans took fourth place in the elite race at Hereford High in Parkton, Md., but they did it without No. 4 runner Jeff O'Toole, who sat out with a fever. Gaithersburg's top four runners finished in the top 47; had O'Toole run and finished in the top 40, the Trojans would have won.
"Jeff's one of our top guys, he's improved a lot, so we weren't the same without him," James said. "We definitely think we can be a top team."
River Hill edged Broadneck, 104-110, behind Sergiy Zubko's fifth-place finish and a seventh-place finish from Nick Keane. Loyola of Baltimore (123) placed third ahead of Gaithersburg (158).
In the girls' race, Blair sophomore twins Halsey and Ashlyn Sinclair dominated the competition and finished in first and second place, respectively. Halsey, an All-Met last fall, won in 20 minutes 2 seconds, followed by Ashlyn, a second-team All-Met who crossed in 20:06.
Northwest's Rachel Forcino finished 16th to guide Northwest to a sixth-place finish, best among Montgomery County girls' teams. Unionville (Pa.) won the meet with 44 points.
The conditions at Hereford High, the annual site of the Maryland championships, were less than ideal as the remnants of Hurricane Ivan pushed through northern Baltimore County. The already challenging three-mile course had several muddy spots and nearly every runner had to deal with slipping and sliding through parts of the hilly course. Martinez, James and Northwest senior Matt Logie were part of a five-man pack that stayed at the front for the first mile and a half of the race. But Martinez, the state's third-place finisher last year, pulled away from the rest of the pack.
Martinez won in 17:21, while James (17:31) held off Broadneck sophomore Matt Centrowitz (17:32) and Logie (17:33). Whitman's Mark Handelman was sixth (18:00).
"It was a little disappointing with the weather," Martinez said. "We weren't able to go for the times we wanted to get. . . . But we definitely were going for" a one-two finish.
Damascus All-Met senior Ricky Flynn ran in the large-schools race and finished second overall, losing an early lead halfway through the race to eventual winner Dwight Parker, a Woodlawn sophomore.
In Flynn's last race at Hereford, he held off Walter Johnson All-Met Andrew Jesien at the finish line to win the 4A state championship last November.
Note: Jesien took second place at the Lake Fairfax Invitational in Reston on Saturday. Jesien finished in 17:46, well back of Chantilly junior Brad Siragusa, who won in 17:24. The race was held on a 5,200-meter course, a modified, longer version of the usual course, which was waterlogged after the poor weather. Good Counsel was the only other county team to go to Lake Fairfax and finished 16th in the boys' race. The girls captured sixth place overall, led by Rachel Bentley's 13th-place finish.