On a Saturday when there were few surprises at the City League cross country meet, Northwest senior Drake Brown stood out.
While it was almost an afterthought that both team finishes would end with Bishop Carroll first, East second and Kapaun Mount Carmel third, Brown's seventh-place finish in the boys 5-kilometer race at Cessna Activity Center was not expected.
After all, it was at this meet last year where he was still running on the junior varsity level.
"Honestly, I didn't think Drake was going to be that kid," Northwest coach Ron Russell said. "This year he's had a whole different mindset. He knew he had to be one of the senior leaders and he's done an outstanding job."
Never miss a local story.
Carroll's David Thor won the boys race in 16 minutes, 6 seconds, beating East's Will Marsh by 19 seconds.
North's Amber Eichkorn was the girls 4-kilometers in 14:38, 10 seconds ahead of Carroll's Kaelyn Balch.
Last season, Northwest relied heavily on two great runners in Robbie Martinez-Garcia and Daniel Herbert. With their graduation, the leadership role was left open. After watching the two, Brown was able to fill the void.
"It was like two Olympians fighting 'til the end, all the time," Brown said. "At practice, I'd always try to be right there behind them, but it's Daniel and Robbie... you're not going to catch them."
This season, Brown has been the one teammates have been trying to catch in practice. His time of 17:09 was about a minute better than his times last season.
"He's just worked a lot harder," classmate and teammate Michael McCormick said. "He's worked his butt off in practice. Last year we were right next to each other, but this year he's just been doing awesome."
Both Carroll teams looked to be in state-level form. The girls team won the title in 31 points, while the boys team scored 43.
Carroll's James Hampton and Gage Garcia finished third and fourth. Andy Schepis gave Carroll four in the top 10. East also had four in the top-10 with Marsh, Aaron Heil, Jesse Parker and Jacob Seamster-Davis.
The Carroll girls stole the show by placing six in the top 13 in Balch, Katherine Dillard, Miranda Reichenberger, Christian McCaulley, Courtney Jordan and Kristen Powell.
"It's nice to have that many girls under 16:30," Carroll girls coach Ran Nielsen said. "That's really good. We've been progressing all season and I think they have a real good chance at winning state."
At Cessna Activity Center
Team scores—Bishop Carroll 34, East 52, Kapaun 69, Northwest 102, North 106, Southeast 169, South 196, Heights 213.
Individuals—1. Thor, Carroll, 16:06; 2. Marsh, East, 16:25; 3. Hampton, Carroll, 16:28; 4. Garcia, Carroll, 16:31; 5. Heil, East, 16:49; 6. Parker, East, 17:00; 7. Brown, Northwest, 17:09; 8. Hesse, Kapaun, 17:14; 9. Schepis, Carroll, 17:17; 10. Seamster-Davis, East, 17:22; 11. Broomfield, Southeast, 17:23; 12. Baldessari, Kapaun, 17:26; 13. Ayres, Kapaun, 17:27; 14. Dolechek, Kapaun, 17:27; 15. Dorion, North, 17:29.
Team scores—Carroll 31, East 65, Kapaun 85, North 87, Northwest 144, Southeast 162, Heights 195, South 196, West 230.
Individuals—1. Eichkorn, North, 14:38; 2. Balch, Carroll, 14:48; 3. Dunn, East, 15:23; 4. Maki, Kapaun, 15:29; 5. Dillard, Carroll, 15:41; 6. Reichenberger, Carroll, 15:45; 7. Greene, East, 15:56; 8. McCaulley, Carroll, 16:05; 9. Muir, Kapaun, 16:16; 10. Jordan, Carroll, 16:19; 11. Masood, Southeast, 16:20; 12. Mayorga, South, 16:22; 13. Powell, Carroll, 16:23; 14. Livingston, East, 16:26; 15. Simkins, Northwest, 16:26.