The GDS women’s varsity cross country team won the Independent School League (ISL) championships on Oct. 29 for the second time in school history. The men’s varsity team finished in second place in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAC) championships.
The day-long event started with a 30-minute bus ride from GDS to the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park. Once the team arrived, the senior girls handed out handwritten notes to all the other girls on the team, which is a tradition before every meet. The teams collected their singlets and huddled together for group photos and a speech from the teams’ head coach, Anthony Belber, before the day’s races began.
“I think that we are going to do well,” freshman Emma Renigar said before the race. “Last practice, Anthony gave us a really long lecture—a long talk, as he calls it—with lots of advice. I think everyone is just here to have fun and do their best. I think everyone’s a little bit nervous—there is kind of a little bit of stress and a little bit of excitement in the air.” Renigar ran in the women’s varsity B race, which was for junior varsity runners.
“I think we are going to give all the teams a run for their money,” assistant coach Amanda Deringer said in an interview before the meet. “I think everybody is excited to kind of leave their legacy.”
The first event of the day was the freshman/sophomore MAC race. GDS won the race, with runners placing in each of the top four spots and in the sixth. “We got 16 points, which is one off of a perfect score for the MAC,” freshman Noah Kolker, a runner in the freshman/sophomore race, said.
The women’s team placed fourth in the ISL Varsity B race. The men’s Varsity B race came right afterward, and ended in another first-place victory for GDS.
Cross country runners who were injured were still asked to show up and cheer on their team. The girl runners tied green ribbons in their hair to support GDS. GDS runners who had finished a race waited at the finish line until the last GDS runner crossed the line.
The day continued with the women’s varsity race. All seven runners completed the five-kilometer course in under 22 minutes. Each of the seven girls got a new personal record, according to sophomore Audrey Leff, who is a runner on the varsity team. GDS runners were thrilled with the accomplishment and many cried tears of joy after the race. Runners waited eagerly for the news that the varsity runners won the ISL championships.
“The seven people we had running today cared about this,” Leff said. “They cared really deeply and everybody was in it to win it. We went in with a positive attitude; we love each other. We went into it with so much joy and happiness and we put our all into it.”
Senior Christian Freeman, who ran for the men’s varsity B team, said that since he thinks the ISL championships is as competitive as States, he thinks that “it is so insane that the women’s team won.”
The last race of the day was the men’s varsity race, where GDS finished in second place behind Potomac. (The Augur Bit’s editor-in-chief, Ethan Wolin, is a captain of the men’s cross country team and was not involved in editing this article. Bit faculty advisor Julia Fisher is an assistant coach.)
“Charlie Ortmans is their best runner and he could win the race no matter what,” Lina Stensland, who ran for women’s varsity B team, said of Potomac’s performance in the men’s varsity race. “Honestly, I think Potomac just had faster runners than us today.”
The day ended with a speech by Belber, where he praised the team for its accomplishments. “We are an 80-person team and we have all made contributions,” he said. “You guys are very strong people.”
Members of the team hugged, cried and cheered after the races ended. On one of the buses on the way home, the runners sang “We Are The Champions” by Queen.
CORRECTION (Oct. 31): A previous version of this article stated that the GDS women’s team placed fifth in the ISL Varsity B race. In fact, it placed fourth; Saint James, whose score was the fourth lowest, is not a member of the ISL.