Last year, Georgetown Visitation’s Lili Grant could not compete in the D.C. State Athletic Association cross-country meet. An issue with a low heart rate kept her sidelined for most of the season.

The story was different Saturday afternoon at Kenilworth Park: Grant was filled with energy and had a huge grin on her face while surrounded by her family after she won the DCSAA championship.

“Words cannot explain it,” the sophomore said. “I’ve been planning this for so long. Just to come back and do this, I feel grateful.”

When Grant, who finished in 19 minutes 8.98 seconds, got to the halfway mark, she motivated herself to get through the finish line.

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“I was really tired, but I wanted it more and I had to push,” she said. “At one point, I was like: ‘Okay, legs, you got this. Just go run and have a fun time.’ ”

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St. John’s freshman Meredith Gotzman came in second, crossing the line in 19:22.87 to lead the Cadets to the team championship. The Cadets recorded 41 points and had three runners in the top 15.

Wilson was second, followed by National Cathedral, Georgetown Day School and Georgetown Visitation.

Capuano scores boys' title

Senior Cullen Capuano is a rarity in the Gonzaga cross-country program, one of the few runners under 15th-year coach John Ausema who competed on the varsity level for four years.

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Capuano showed Saturday why he has been an important part of the varsity squad, finishing as the top runner and leading the Purple Eagles to a fourth straight title.

“I knew it was going to be a close one,” he said. “This is our fourth win, and we really wanted to hold that title.”

Capuano crossed the finish line in 16:35.01. Purple Eagles junior Patrick Donnelly finished third as Gonzaga posted 59 points.

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“Our front guys ran really well,” Ausema said. “We were really anxious, but our fifth man really came through in the clutch.”

St. John’s was second with 61 points, followed by Wilson, Sidwell Friends and St. Albans. St. Albans junior Damian Hackett (16:47.32) finished second in the individual competition.

To Ausema, another title for Gonzaga was all about his athletes’ hard work.

“It shows that these guys over the course of several years have been putting in consistent training and bought into the program,” he said. “One of the fun things about this is that it’s not the same guys. It’s a lot of guys contributing, and it shows longevity within the program.”

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