Paint Branch Cross Country Takes on Gaithersburg and Springbrook Rivals

Christina Anderson, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, September 17, the Paint Branch cross country team traveled to Bohrer Park to face off with the Springbrook Blue Devils and the Gaithersburg Trojans in their second divisional meet of the season. The Panther boys dominated the race, beating both teams, while the Lady Panthers won against Springbrook, but lost to Gaithersburg. 

The Gaithersburg course is well-known for being a good course with a relatively flat and grassy landscape. Tuesday’s race conditions were dry and warm, with a forecast of 80 degrees and partly cloudy, making for fast racing conditions. 

On the girl’s side, Gaithersburg’s Alana Dyce-Giraud had the top time of this season, followed closely by her teammate Devon Derrenbacher. Both ran under 21:00 the Saturday before, so they would be tough to beat. The girls were the first to take to the course and the Gaithersburg girls jumped out front early and had the lead by the one mile mark. 

The race stretched out early, with Dyce-Giraud and Derrenbacher breaking away from the rest of the runners. Led by the two, Gaitherburg snatched up the first four spots of the race, with Darrenbacher taking top spot in a winning time of 22:21. Paint Branch’s female runners ran hard, and although they fell to Gaithersburg 16-42, they defeated Springbrook 18-38. 

On the guy’s side, Springbrook’s Surafel Mengist held the fastest season time of Tuesday’s competitors going into the race, with a personal record of 15:58, set at Barnhart Invitational the previous Saturday. The Paint Branch boys began the race very fast, but the other team’s top runners were on their pace and a large group of members from all teams passed through the one-mile mark simultaneously. Eventually the group became separated and Mengist took off with the lead.

Mengist clocked through at the finish line with a time of 17:43 to win the race. Not too far behind him was Springbrook teammate Jeriel Williams, who battled with Paint Branch’s Yosef Tsigie all the way to the end.  Tsigie managed to pass him at the line and finished less than half a second ahead of Williams. Springbrook and Paint Branch dominated the race with close finishes between the teams. 

Ultimately, after the top five runners from Springbrook and Paint Branch crossed the line, the score was a tie, leaving the sixth place runner from each team to determine the winner. Paint Branch’s Nathan Quinn finished before Springbrook’s sixth runner, breaking the tie and deeming Paint Branch the winner. 

Paint Branch’s strong performance meant that they swept the meet as they outpointed  Gaithersburg 20-37. 

After the meet, senior runner Jimmy Plunkett spoke about the team’s successful strategy.  “We ran hard, and went with the guys we had to in order to win,” claimed Plunkett.

 Nadia Dennis, who sat out of the meet due to an injury, talked about the team pride that carries the team.  “There was never a moment you didn’t see a PB teammate or coach cheering for our runners,” she noted.

Regarding  how the girls competed to win their first meet of the season, sophomore Maria Poulos commented, “Run through the pain and run with your heart” and “We’re a team, we run together.” 

On Wednesday, September 25, Paint Branch will look to secure another divisional win on their own course as they take on Quince Orchard at home.

Christina Anderson