Walter Johnson senior Andrew Jesien was staring at yet another second-place finish during the final stretch of the seeded boys' cross-country race at the Georgetown Prep Invitational yesterday.
The All-Met performer, however, summoned all the energy he had for a final kick to burst past Lee senior Dawit Legesse over the last 200 meters to win his second consecutive race.
"I don't know what got into me, I just went for it," said Jesien, who also has two second-place finishes. "I blew by him and kept it all the way to the finish. It was a pretty intense finish."
Against an elite field stacked with several of the D.C. area's best runners, Jesien finished the five kilometers on Georgetown Prep's Bethesda campus in 15 minutes 54 seconds.
Gaithersburg, led by an eighth-place finish from senior Robel Mamo, won the team title with 146 points. Herndon was second with 210.
In the girls' race, Forest Park junior Stefanie Slekis outlasted Blair All-Met sophomore Halsey Sinclair to win the girls' seeded race in 18:46, five seconds before Sinclair. Slekis heads into the postseason having won individual championships at five invitationals this season.
"There are some hills on this course, and there was a lot of good competition here," Slekis said. "So, this is a good test before states."
C.M. Wright of Bel Air, Md., one of the East Coast's top teams, won the girls' team title with 73 points, well ahead of Westfield's 121.
Despite the deep field of runners, the boys' championship was contested mostly by Jesien, Legesse and Georgetown Prep junior All-Met Steven Duplinsky.
Jesien and Duplinsky dueled for much of the first half of the race before Jesien grabbed the lead. Then, Legesse, who won the Virginia Tech Invitational last Saturday, burst into the lead with 800 meters remaining, taking Jesien by surprise. But Jesien garnered the strength to retake the lead with 200 meters left, and he ended up winning by five seconds.
Jesien missed most of the spring track season with a stress fracture in his right leg, and his cross-country season has been hampered by a bout of mononucleosis.
"For most of the year, I didn't have the final strength I felt today," Jesien said. "I felt great today."
Legesse finished ahead of Chantilly junior Brad Siragusa (16:10), his top competitor this season in the Virginia AAA Northern Region whose final kick was enough to take third ahead of Duplinsky. Ryan Woodlee of Episcopal was fifth.
"I didn't think [Jesien] was going to pass me up, and my legs were tight in the end so I didn't have the kick," Legesse said. "But I had a good race today."