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The Scoreboard is a sports feature spotlighting the winners and losers, the champs and chumps, the highlights and lowlights, and anything in between, of sports in the D.C. area.

History Made

On the night of Sept. 4, Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud walked straight at the camera in Georgia Tech’s Hank McCamish Pavilion, pointed her index finger, and shouted, “We’re going to the finals!” 

She then headed toward the locker room where a beaming Mike Thibault, the team’s coach and general manager, greeted her with a hug. “Worth the wait? Worth the wait,” Thibault can be heard saying in a video the team posted. 

“Worth the wait!” Cloud responds.

The Mystics are headed to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history after defeating the Atlanta Dream in a decisive Game 5, 86-81. Four players scored in double figures against the Dream, including a team-high 20 points from rookie Ariel Atkins. Elena Delle Donne, who missed Game 3 after suffering a bone bruise in her knee in Game 2, finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Veteran guard Kristi Toliver added 19 points.

The Mystics will next play the Seattle Storm, and their home games will be at EagleBank Arena at George Mason University in Fairfax.

“D.C. has become home for me,” Delle Donne told ESPN’s LaChina Robinson in a post-game interview. “Now we really need the city to rally behind us, because we’re not done yet.”

Marathon Man

Arlington’s Michael Wardian doesn’t need an introduction in the local running community. The 44-year-old international shipbroker and professional ultramarathon runner is well known for conquering extreme challenges and breaking running records, whether racing in an Elvis costume or running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

Over Labor Day weekend, Wardian decided to go for a local record: He wanted to best Park Barner’s Fastest Known time (FKT) for the C&O Canal Towpath, which is approximately 184.5 miles from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. 

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Barner set his record of 36 hours 48 minutes and 14 seconds in 1976. On a hot and humid Sunday afternoon, Wardian reached the finish in 36:36:03, beating the record by 12 minutes.

“That was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done, for sure,” Wardian told City Paper.

Nats Fans Wait

It’s not too early to look ahead. In the midst of a disappointing, underachieving season, the Washington Nationals are assessing their plans for the future. 

Within the last week, the team has said goodbye to starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez and called up pitchers Erick Fedde, Austin Voth, Joe Ross, Kyle McGowin, and Austen Williams, outfielder Victor Robles, infielder Adrian Sanchez, and catcher Pedro Severino.

“I want to see some of the younger guys play. I want to see them in high-leverage situations,” manager Davey Martinez said Monday, according to The Washington Post. “I want to see what they do and see what we have for the future. I really do.”

So do Nats fans.

Low Power

The local NFL team begins its regular season against the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday after finishing 1-3 in the preseason. The latest NFL power rankings heading into Week 1 indicate that pundits around the country aren’t exactly bullish on the Jay Gruden and Alex Smith-led team. 

NFL.com: 26th (out of 32 teams)

Sporting News: 30th

The Washington Post: 21st

Bleacher Report: 23rd

The Ringer: 20th

ESPN: 22nd

SB Nation: 25th

Associated Press: 22nd

This article has been updated. The original version stated that a potential Game 5 of the WNBA Finals would be at Capital One Arena. It would be hosted at KeyArena at Seattle Center in Seattle.