Misery, of course, loves company, especially in the gut-wrenching sport of cross country.
Yesterday at Herring Run Park, Archbishop Curley senior Matt Ciarpella repeated as the Maryland Scholastic Association individual champion, then got even more satisfaction from seeing his teammates win the team title. "We didn't win last year," he said. "It means a lot more when you've got a team to celebrate with . . . It gets lonely when you're winning by yourself."
Clutching the winner's trophy in his gloved hands, Ciarpella said, "It was cold and my legs were numb. Chris Sisk [Calvert Hall] and Romero Wilson [Mount St. Joseph] were on me until about a mile to go. Then I lost 'em." His time of 16:22.04 over the 3.1-mile course was well ahead of Wilson (second, 16:36.33) and Sisk (third, 16:39.17).
Curley coach Gene Hoffman said, "He would've liked a shot at the course record [15:52], but what the heck . . . This is the fifth time in seven years we've had the individual winner and the first time anyone has repeated since 1980-81. The team ran well. We looked good today."
The Friars' Steve Daft (fourth), Gary Mryncza (seventh), Don Oakjones (11th), and Doug Dorney (12th) helped Curley edge Loyola, 35-50, for the team victory. It was Curley's fifth title since 1981.
Distance runners, more than most, know about loneliness and must reach inside themselves for motivation. "Today I was running for my coach," Ciarpella said. "He's had a bad summer; his mother was killed in a car accident . . . He puts out a lot of sacrifices for the team."
Ciarpella, whether or not he wins a running scholarship, plans on being the first in his family to attend college next year. And, after coming out for cross country in ninth grade only because he appeared too late for soccer tryouts, he now has his sights set on yet another sport -- the triathlon.
"I love it," he said. "If they had it in college, that's what I'd go for." In his first major triathlon, the Bud Light in Baltimore this summer, he was the top area male finisher, regardless of age group.
Anita Manning of Poly breezed to the championship in yesterday's girls race, finishing in 13:39. April Thornton of Western placed second in 15:15, and teammate Jennifer Eaddy was third (15:59). Western won the team title, beating Poly, 30-57.
The girls, and the boys JV competitors, both ran a 2.1-mile course. Mike Kelley of Loyola won the JV title in 11:34.