St. John’s cross country competed in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships (WCACs) on Oct. 27, as well as the District of Columbia State Athletic Association championships (DCSAAs) on Nov. 3. The boys’ and girls’ junior varsity teams won first place at both events. Additionally, SJC won the WCAC freshman boys’ race.
There was no doubt about who was taking home the hardware this year. St. John’s boys flooded the front of the pack, with the first five runners. Sophomores Tara Anders and Daniel De Lude were the first-place finishers for girls and boys at both championships. Anders said, “It felt really nice to have my hard work and our team’s hard work pay off in both championships.”
The conditions for WCACs at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, VA, tested the runners’ limits. It was cold and the course was very saturated, but the team was able to pull through. Last Saturday at Kenilworth Park in DC, the weather was better, but still chilly and damp. Donald Tyler ’21, who came in fourth for JV at DCSAAs, said, “The terrain [at DCSAAs] was similar to how WCACs was last Saturday, but I believe because we did that first, it made it easier for us to deal with the conditions during DCSAAs.”
SJC cross country had a new head coach this year. Coach Desmond Dunham started last year at St. John’s as the head track coach, previously working at nearby Woodrow Wilson SHS. This year, when Coach Sheehy, SJC math teacher, stepped down from his position as head coach, he asked Dunham to lead the program.
Coach Dunham said, “I knew we had something special going for us when the JV teams placed third and fourth at the Disney Cross Country Championships. Then, to culminate with first-places at WCACs and DCSAAs just put the stamp on the season.”
The team has been training since last season for these championships. During the summer, they participated in Coach Dunham’s Kids Elite DCXC Summer Training. In this program, school-aged runners from around the DMV got together four times a week to practice for the fall season. This rigorous summer training was one reason the team was so successful this year. They also practiced once a week on the track at American University, which helped with speed.
De Lude said, “We have been training to peak during the last two weeks of the season. The results show that Coach D has done a great job with this.”
Through many pasta dinners and other planned activities, like a movie night, the team members became very close. Coach Dunham said, “Our positive training environment, as well as our family atmosphere, influenced each runner to push themselves to their optimal level. They wanted to do well for themselves, for their teammates, and for SJC.”