Bethesda-Chevy Chase junior Nora McUmber isn’t one for a fast start during her cross-country races.
She normally likes to sit back and see how the early portion of the race unfolds before making her move. McUmber’s coaches have recently advised otherwise, telling her that she has the ability to perform at a higher level if she starts faster.
On Saturday at the Montgomery County Cross-Country Championships at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, she did what her coaches told her. She burst to a fast start, separated from the pack after the first mile and finished the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes 9 seconds to win her second consecutive county title.
“My coach told me to choose a point when I could blast off, you could say,” McUmber said. “The runners at the beginning were putting up a good battle and I went with them on pacing.”
Chase Weaverling of Poolesville also earned consecutive county titles by winning the boys’ race in 15:31.
Rounding out the girls’ race’s top three were Clarksburg’s Lucie Noall (18:55) and Richard Montgomery’s Sophie El-Masry (19:11).
Finishing behind Weaverling were Wootton’s Urgy Eado (15:59) and Danniel Belay (16:00).
It’s the first time since 2003-2004 that both the Montgomery County boys’ and girls’ races had repeat champions.
McUmber’s strategic change may have been a request from her coaches, but it also had to do with how her competition began the race.
“If you saw the start, it was fast at the beginning,” she said. “I knew I needed to not hold back at the start if I was going to keep up.”
Bethesda-Chevy-Chase’s coaches, Chad and Emily Young, were pleased with how she ran the race, which was just four seconds off her time at the Adidas XC Challenge in Cary, N.C., earlier this year.
“This was the first race she went straight to the front,” Emily Young said. “She usually likes to sit back. We tell her that’s fine but that you’ll do even better if you go straight to the front.”
For Weaverling, he said he was hoping for a better time, even though he won with a 28-second advantage. He’ll certainly take the county crown, though the senior was hoping to break 15 minutes.
“It’s not exactly the time I wanted,” Weaverling said. “The course was soft from the rain.”
Weaverling’s win is just the beginning of a cross-country-filled weekend. After the race, the Poolesville runners met for pizza in the early afternoon before a scheduled team bonfire Saturday night. On Sunday, Weaverling will visit American Univeristy on a recruiting trip. He already has visited Pennsylvania, Brown and Virginia and might be setting up a trip to Villanova soon.
Weaverling will look to ride the momentum from this win.
“I’m definitely trying to win 2A regionals and 2A states,” he said. “After that, I get up to New York for the Foot Locker [Northeast] regional. Hopefully, I can squeeze in for nationals.”