Lake Braddock senior Kate Murphy raised her arms above her head in the shape of an “O” as she crossed the finish line of the five-kilometer course at the WakeMed Soccer Complex in Cary, N.C., Murphy’s time of 17 minutes 13 seconds produced her second consecutive Nike Cross Nationals Southeast regional championship.
The “O” was a tribute to the school she will attend next year, Oregon, but it also represented where the Lake Braddock girls will fly Wednesday to prepare for Nike Cross Nationals in Portland on Dec. 3 after qualifying with a second-place team finish Saturday.
The Bruins needed five strong finishes to advance as a team, and the group delivered with a 122-point outing. Samantha Schwers (26th) crossed next for the Bruins, followed by Taylor Kitchen (32nd), Sarah Daniels (41st) and Shannon Browning (58th).
“Kate’s race was great and it really helps to start with only one point,” Bruins Coach Mike Mangan said. “But then we had a lot of kids really come through and do a great job.”
Lake Braddock clinched the second and final team spot by a 20-point margin, a feat that may not have been possible were it not for a late push by Browning.
“Up the last hill, Shannon Browning probably passed 20 people, including one of her teammates, and ended up being our No. 5,” Mangan said. “That might have been the difference in our score.”
On the boys’ side, Richard Montgomery senior Rohann Asfaw booked an individual ticket to Portland with a fourth-place finish in 15:15, as did Loudoun Valley junior Peter Morris, who finished seventh in 15:25.
Morris and teammate Colton Bogucki, who placed 11th in 15:32.5, led the Vikings to a third-place team finish. Only the top two teams from each gender are guaranteed a spot at NXN, and Loudoun Valley was not selected for one of four at-large club berths granted to teams that finished third or fourth at the nine different regional races.
Runners from Maryland and the District took half of the 10 national championship qualifying spots Saturday at the Foot Locker Northeast regional at Van Cortlandt Park in New York.
Annapolis senior Maria Coffin finished third in 17:59.8, National Cathedral junior Page Lester (18:04.7) edged Patuxent senior Hayley Jackson (18:05.1) for fifth place and Walter Johnson junior Abbey Green (18:08.2) finished ninth. Catoctin’s Julien Webster (18:08.8) rounded out the top ten.
“It’s really cool to have people that I know, that I can hang out with and talk to,” Coffin said of the local company in the top 10. “Since we’ve all raced against each other, it definitely helps to have them there because I know that they’re around my speed.”
Meanwhile, Marshall’s Heather Holt had no problem advancing to nationals at the Foot Locker South regional in Charlotte. After barely missing the cut with an 11th-place finish as a sophomore, the junior came through with a second-place time of 17:23.4 on the 5K course at McAlpine Greenway Park.
The Marshall junior said she was feeling pretty comfortable sitting around fourth or fifth with a mile to go, but she didn’t want to leave anything up to chance, so she made a push over the final mile.
“Because I finished so close last year, it just made me really want to secure a spot this year,” Holt said. “I just wanted to leave everything I had out on the course.”