As teams from the Independent School League warmed up on a crisp fall Saturday, National Cathedral’s cross-country team blasted music and senior runner Page Lester danced to Børns’ “Electric Love.” She sang along: “I feel your energy rushing through me; baby, you’re like lightning in a bottle; I can’t let you go now that I got it.”
It was a fitting song for Lester, who looked spry after dealing with a slew of nagging injuries that limited her to two pre-championship races.
Lester raced past the other runners, spectators and three goats at Agricultural Farm Park in Derwood, Md., to capture the ISL cross-country title for the third time. In addition, Cathedral tied Stone Ridge with 75 points for first in team scores. Ultimately, Cathedral was named the league’s champion after winning a tiebreaker, with senior Lilly Freemyer, Cathedral’s sixth-fastest runner, having beaten out Stone Ridge’s sixth-fastest.
When the announcement was made, Cathedral’s runners erupted in jubilation. The team hadn’t won the ISL since 2012.
Lester’s dominance and personal record times from freshman Sophia Hanky (19:51), sophomore Sophia Charles (21:45), freshman Maya Thumpasery (21:57) and Freemyer (22:43) — coupled with a season-best time from junior Isabella Houle (22:07) and a strong race from Isabel Stone (23:32) — proved to be enough to win the meet.
“We did really well,” Lester said. “We have a lot of young people who are really talented, and it’s great to see how they have progressed this season.”
Lester did her best to start slow and finish strong, but some of the other runners pushed the pace early and Lester followed suit. The change of plans didn’t affect the outcome, though, as Lester cruised to first place overall while breaking her own course record by three seconds.
“There were a couple of girls that started fast, and I didn’t want them to get too far ahead so I stayed with them,” she said. “My plan was to go out slower because I hadn’t raced in five weeks. … I wanted to run a better-executed race — this was OK.”
For the 2016 D.C. Gatorade cross-country runner of the year, it was a chance to finally get out and race after last competing in September in the Bullis Invitational and DCXC Invitational (where she set a personal record of 17:34).
While Cathedral took home the most hardware, several Northwest runners had strong showings.
Visitation took fourth place as a team, led by senior Michaela Kiran’s seventh-place time of 19:58. In addition, junior Brennan Dunne took 15th with a time of 21:22.
Meanwhile, Sidwell freshman Allison Barker recorded a personal best of 19:52 for fifth place overall as the team finished in sixth place. And two Georgetown Day runners saw strong performances: Senior Isabel Kirsch earned a personal record of 21:21 for 14th place and junior Ana Gunther took 18th with a personal best time of 21:28.
This article has been updated to correct the school of Isabel Kirsch and Ana Gunther.