High School Sports Notebook: Walter Johnson Girls Cross Country Wins Fourth Straight State Title
Plus, Richard Montgomery and Bullis football, and Walter Johnson girls and boys soccer head to state finals
Walter Johnson girls cross country
WJ Athletics on Twitter
Walter Johnson girls cross country wins fourth straight state title
All five of the Wildcats’ scorers—Abigail Green, Katrione Kirsch, Sadie Keller, Janet Scott and Sophia Scobell—finished inside the top 25 to clinch Walter Johnson’s fourth consecutive state title Saturday at Hereford. It was the Wildcats girls’ second fourpeat—they also held the title from 1996-99. Walter Johnson finished with 59 points, ahead of Thomas S. Wootton (118 points) in second place. Winston Churchill (200), Walt Whitman (203), Montgomery Blair (204), Sherwood (236) and Richard Montgomery (244) all finished in the top 10 as well.
In a competitive race from the start, Green finished runner-up to defending state champion and Annapolis senior Maria Coffin by a mere 5.4 seconds. Their times—17 minutes, 49.38 seconds and 17:54.40—are the two fastest on the Hereford course since 1995; no one had even broken the 18-minute mark.
Other top individual performers on the girls' side included Churchill senior and University of Maryland, College Park, recruit Julia Reicen (third) and Wootton sophomore Jessica Trzeciak (sixth).
Richard Montgomery senior and University of Virginia recruit Rohann Asfaw dropped 16.57 seconds from his time in last year’s race to win his first state cross country title. He finished nearly nine seconds ahead of the rest of the field, which was led by Bethesda-Chevy Chase junior and runner-up Adam Nakasaka. The two, along with Albert Einstein’s Simeon Mussie in eighth place, were Montgomery County’s only top 10 finishers.
Northwest’s boys finished a county-best sixth, followed closely by B-CC and Richard Montgomery in seventh and eighth. Wootton and Churchill finished ninth and 10th.
Other strong individual performances included Wootton sophomore John Riker (11th), Whitman junior Joshua Engels (12th), Richard Montgomery freshman Garrett Suhr (13th) and B-CC junior Josh Fry (16th).
Richard Montgomery football runs into region final
Richard Mongomery running back Ty Hebron scored three of the team's four touchdowns Friday. Credit: File photo by Kathy Silverstein
When the Rockets first found out they were to host Northwest—the only team to which they have lost in the last two seasons—in Friday’s Class 4A West Region semifinal, they were not thinking about revenge, coach Josh Klotz said.
“There was just a lot of excitement,” he continued. “We were not thinking about getting over the hump or getting the monkey off our back, we were just focused on trying to minimize our mistakes and play four complete quarters. We felt if we did, we could win.”
Richard Montgomery scored one touchdown in each quarter to clinch its 28-13 victory over the three-time defending region champion Jaguars. It was the Rockets’ first postseason win since reaching the state semifinals in 2001. The 1981 state champion is scheduled to face traditional county power Quince Orchard in Friday’s region title game.
Mistakes are going to be made in a high school football game, Klotz said, but he commended the Rockets for keeping theirs to a minimum—just two or three costly ones—in Friday’s overall complete game.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Friday’s win and Northwest’s 46-13, regular-season victory, was the Jaguars’ inability to stop Richard Montgomery’s ground game the second time around. Northwest coach Mike Neubeiser credited the Rockets’ offensive line—juniors Adam Tounkara and Nick Wissinger, sophomores Kiarash Afshar and Abubakar Audu and 14-year-old freshman Shazali Audu—with creating space and time for running back Ty Hebron, and he capitalized.
Hebron, the Washington, D.C., area’s second leading rusher with 2,151 yards and 28 touchdowns, rushed for 289 yards and three of Richard Montgomery’s four touchdowns Friday, on 31 carries. Quarterback Spencer Silverstein scored the Rockets’ fourth touchdown on a 12-yard run.
“Ty deserves all the credit in the world for preparing his body in the off-season for what he’s been able to do for us,” Klotz said. “He gets a lot of credit for what he’s done on offense, but not a whole lot of attention for what he’s done, defensively. He plays every snap for us and he had some great tackles on defense [Friday]. Our defense gave us two big touchdowns, forced two turnovers and we had six stops on fourth down.”
The Heights, St. Andrew’s girls win DC-MD Private School cross country titles
Led by Matthew Zischkau and Ian Denis, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at the DC-MD Private School Cross Country Championship hosted by National Cathedral Saturday, The Heights took home its first title in the small schools division since 2011, according to mocorunning.com.
The Cavaliers’ entire top five finished inside the top 15—Joseph Crnkovich, Tony Crnkovich and Isaiah Fowler placed 11th through 13th. St. Andrew’s Episcopal’s boys took third; Luke Armbruster finished runner-up and Sam Beesley (ninth), Colin Hendrie (14th) and Andy Carr (19th) were all among the first 20 finishers.
Second- and fourth-place performances from Joy Reeves and Isabelle Jeppsen helped the St. Andrew’s girls to their third straight small schools championship. Sari Postal (14th), Sarah Schwartz (22nd) and Annabel Resor (23rd) also contributed important top 25 results.
Walter Johnson soccer two wins away from a state sweep
Walter Johnson boys soccer team. Credit: WJ Athletics on Twitter
The Wildcat girls clinched their first-ever state final appearance with a 3-2 win over Charles County’s North Point in double overtime. Walter Johnson’s boys cruised into their first championship game since 2011 with a 4-0 victory over Prince George’s County’s Eleanor Roosevelt. They are scheduled to go for the rare state sweep Friday at Loyola University—the boys face Bel Air at 5 p.m. followed by the girls against Perry Hall at 7:30 p.m.
There are leading scorers, and there are true go-to players who consistently make good things happen wherever on the field they happen to be. Fortunately for the Walter Johnson girls, University of Wisconsin recruit Cammie Murtha embodies both. No matter the score, with her on the field, the Wildcats know they are in every game, eighth-year coach Liz Robinson said.
“Do I think we’ve had teams in the past that could have [made it here?] Yes,’” Robinson said. “But there’s something in the air that Cammie brings because we know we can always count on her. We’ve never anyone we could truly go to. She takes the weight of this team on her shoulders.”
Walter Johnson’s girls found themselves on the brink of defeat for the second straight game Saturday, trailing North Point 2-1 midway through the second half. But Murtha, who tied the game on a penalty kick, scored the game winner for her county-leading 29th goal of the season.
While Murtha’s prowess—she’s also tallied 22 assists—has rightfully garnered much attention, both she and Robinson credited Walter Johnson’s often overlooked defense with playing a major role in this season’s success. Led by Nicole Lopez and Rachel Lux, the Wildcats’ backline gave up only five goals during the regular season and though it’s given up six in the last two games, Walter Johnson has played the last 142 minutes without its starting goalkeeper—she received a red card midway through the first half of the region final, which also sidelined her for Saturday’s state semifinal. Freshman midfielder Emmi Mills scored Walter Johnson’s first-half goal.
Felix Wu (Zion Friday assist), Danny Tran, Justin Hahn and Aldo Ruiz scored for the Wildcat boys Saturday against a physical Raiders squad. Walter Johnson senior goalkeeper David Goodstein came up with three major saves that could have changed the complexion of the game, coach Hector Morales said. He also commended senior midfielder Bobby Riffle for neutralizing Roosevelt’s strong attacking central midfielder. Walter Johnson is seeking its first state title since winning the program’s third in 2006.
Bullis football defeats Georgetown Prep in season finale
The Bulldogs finished their injury-riddled fall on a high note with Friday’s 14-7 victory over Interstate Athletic Conference rival Georgetown Prep. For the second straight year Bullis scored in the final two minutes of regulation to clinch the comeback win.
Due to a rash of injuries the Bulldogs were starting two freshmen and two sophomores who had begun the season on junior varsity by the middle of the season, coach Pat Cilento said. Bullis lost running back Andres Lopez to a broken foot three weeks into the season.
But injuries are part of the game, Cilento said, and the Bulldogs, who lost three of their first six games, rebounded well to finish their seasons with four consecutive victories.
Cilento said Devin Darringon and Duke University recruit Damani Neal really embraced their more prominent roles. Darrington, who rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown Friday, averaged 200 yards in each of the last four games, Cilento said. Darrington finished with 11 touchdowns on 878 rushing yards. Neal finished with 359 rushing yards for six touchdowns and 251 receiving yards for four touchdowns. Bryson Shaw averaged eight yards per carry to finish second on the team with 474 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
“We have 12 seniors graduating and only nine were available after week four, so we played a lot of young guys,” Cilento said. “Our offense got better as the year went on and our offense was very young. So hopefully we can continue that into next year.”