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December 3, 2014 Published in Other News, Sports

T. C. Runner Qualifies for National Championship

By Katie Smythe

T.C.'s Anteneh Girma competes at Foot Locker South Championship (Photo: Mary Ann Magnant / MileStat)

T.C.'s Anteneh Girma competes at Foot Locker South Championship (Photo: Mary Ann Magnant/MileStat)

Anteneh Girma, a senior at T. C. Williams High School, has had an extraordinary cross country season and he just added another major accomplishment – qualifying for the national championship in San Diego. Only one other T. C. athlete in school history has advanced to nationals and that was 35 years ago in 1979, the first year of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.

Girma took sixth place in the Foot Locker South Regional Championship in Charlotte, N.C. on Nov. 29, eclipsing his previous best time by 25 seconds with a new personal record of 14 minutes 59 seconds. By finishing in the top ten, Girma secured a spot on the team representing the South at the national championship at Balboa Park in San Diego on Dec. 13, where the top 40 high school distance runners in the country will compete for the 2014 national title.

Anteneh Girma (left) takes 6th place at Foot Locker South Championship (Photo:

Anteneh Girma (left) takes 6th place at Foot Locker South Championship (Photo:

“Anteneh ran the race of his life,” said T. C. Williams Assistant Coach Jim Garner. “I have never seen him run better.”

Of the nearly 300 runners in the boys seeded race, Girma moved out quickly to attach with the lead pack, comprised of the best runners in the South. At the one-mile mark, Girma was around 26th place; by two miles he was in 11th or 12th and moving up. “He never stopped moving forward,” said Garner. With less than 200 meters to go, he turned it on moving up from ninth into a showdown for the top spots. At the line, there was a mere two-second spread between third place and sixth place, finishing just under the elusive 15 minute mark.

Girma’s accomplishment – a qualifier for nationals – is no small feat. He entered the regional championship ranked 47th based on best times this season for the competitors in the South Region, which covers 16 states and territories. The coaches told him to aim for the top ten and urged him to push himself and be confident. He turned it on when it mattered the most – a chance to advance to the pinnacle race.

“Anteneh is the best I've had on the boys’ side in my 22 years (of coaching at T.C.),” said Head Coach Michael Hughes previously.

The coaches have been training Girma for San Diego all season, aiming for him to peak at just the right time. “When he showed up at the first practice in early August, he came ready to work,” said Hughes. “We knew he was capable; he just needed to start believing in himself,” added Garner.

Foot Locker South Finalists, Anteneh Girma 6th place (Photo: Jim Garner)

Foot Locker South Finalists, Anteneh Girma 6th place (Photo: Jim Garner)

With his 14:59 finishing time from Foot Locker South, Girma is currently No. 33 on the 2014 national leaderboard and tied for the No. 2 spot among Virginia boys.

Girma was one of four Foot Locker South finalist from Virginia, including the overall South champion, junior Andrew Hunter from Loudoun Valley High School, who won by a sweeping 18 seconds. Virginia won the boys’ team competition. On the girls’ side, three finalists hail from Virginia, capturing fourth through sixth places. James Madison High School (Fairfax Co.) won the girls overall team title.

Girma earned the Most Valuable Athlete award for cross country, which was announced at last night’s sports recognition ceremony at T. C. Williams. In addition to the major titles, Girma finished in the top ten in every 5K race this season.

A summary follows of Anteneh Girma’s accomplishments this season.

All-Virginia RunWashington Team
All-Conference First Team (4th place)
All-Region First Team / 6A North Region Runner Up
All-Time Best at Burke Lake Course, 19th overall best time (1974-present)
All-State First Team / 6A Group (6th place)
All-Time 50 Best at State Championship
All-South First Team / Foot Locker South Finalist (6th place)
All-MileStat Boys First Team / No. 4 Runner
Foot Locker National Qualifier / South Region
Top 50 fastest 5K times in the U.S. this season (currently No. 33)


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