Baltimore sisters lead O’Connell to ninth straight title; favorite Wavering doesn’t waver
Gabriella Baltimore once resented running behind her sister, Isabell. A year older, Gabriella thought that meant she should be a year faster. And when she wasn’t, she didn’t like it.
Over time, though, Gabriella grew to appreciate the rarity of being teammates at O’Connell with her sister. So right around noon on Saturday in the winding wood of Lake Fairfax in Reston, Gabriella watched from three spots back and felt nothing but joy as Isabell finished first in the WCAC Cross-Country Championships.
“It’s so impressive. I look up to her and admire what she does,” said Gabriella, a senior. “I realized there is so much more to running than winning the race. I’m like the momma of the team . . . and I’m so proud of her and the team.”
A junior, Isabell won the race in 20 minutes 41 seconds. Gabriella finished in fourth place at 21:17 — Megan Crilly of Good Counsel (20:47) and Emily Car- roll of St. John’s (21:07) filled the gap — and together they led O’Connell to its ninth consecutive WCAC girls’ cross-country title.
Jack Wavering of Good Counsel defended his personal title in the boys’ race, winning in 16:32.
The younger Baltimore sister hurt her knee during practice early in the week, a bad situation for any runner but one compounded when coupled with the seemingly never-ending hills that cover the 5,000-meter course.
The adrenaline pushed away the pain as long as possible, but down one last steep decline in the final leg of the race, the limp and grimace became apparent from outside the ropes. Baltimore powered through, though, and captured her first individual title.
“It feels good because I’ve been trying to win it for three years now,” Baltimore said. “To finally have it, it feels really good.”
Good Counsel finished in second place in the girls’ event, placing four finishers in the top 10. Bishop Ireton closed out the top three.
In the boys’ race, Wavering was the first of four Good Counsel runners to claim the top four spots. The Falcons ran away with the team competition, beating Gonzaga and O’Connell.
For Wavering, who was plenty familiar with the early creek and constant climbs from running the course numerous times, the win was just as sweet as his first conference crown.
“I came in here knowing I had a target on my back, especially from Kevin Dannaher, O’Connell’s fastest guy,” Wavering said. “I’ve raced him a couple times this season, and I’ve beaten him, but the gap between us has been shrinking. To take the race by myself today was a lot of fun.”
Wavering finished 26 seconds clear of the field. Matt Lopez (16:58), Kevin McGivern (17:06) and Jimmy Vazzana (17:08) rounded out the top four runners from Good Counsel. Dannaher finished fifth in 17:09.