In mid-August, Broadneck cross country coach Gerald Kiple knew that his boys cross country team had the best shot at being the county front-runner.
Instead of raising a ruckus, he thought he'd let his team do the talking. And it did.
The Bruins proceeded to take top county and regional Class 4A honors -- not to mention a second-place finish in the state meet less than two weeks ago. These accomplishments earned the fourth-year coach selection as The Anne Arundel County Sun Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year.
"I really wasn't totally surprised that we did as well as we did. In fact, before we even started the season, I knew that if we stayed healthy, we'd be very hard to beat," said Kiple, a former Glassboro State (N.J.) basketball star.
Three of Kiple's runners are on The Anne Arundel County Sun All-County team, but county champion Sheridan Snedden of Glen Burnie has been named The Anne Arundel County Sun Male Runner of the Year.
The Broadneck coach, who also heads the indoor and outdoor track programs, attributes his love for the sport, unity, togetherness and family to his team's dream season.
"This season has just been overwhelming. I've been having so much fun doing something that I really and truly enjoy. This year's team kind of reminds me of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates with the 'We Are Family' type attitude. We've taken some long trips together (including meets in Pittsburgh and Winchester, Va.) and run against some top-notch competition," he said.
"I think the reason why we did so well in these races is because of the team unity that we have. Any outsider could even see the togetherness of this team."
Kiple, who has participated in the New York City Marathon, also gives his son, Reese, a former scholastic all-state runner and Gloucester (N.J.) Community College star, a lion's share of credit in boosting the positive atmosphere of the team.
"I can't praise Reese enough. He's been a big help. He sort of bridges the gap between the team and myself, being just 22 years old," said Kiple of his assistant coach.
Kiple readily admits that the cross country season has gone by much too quickly, but he is looking forward to the 1991 season.
"This has definitely been the fastest season ever for me, but it's been just super. But I guess on paper, by losing seniors such as (All-Countians) Derek Anderson, Dave Wall, Rick Chambers, plus my fifth runner Joe Dugan, it looks like we're losing a lot. But with all of the promising ninth- and 10th-graders I have in the program, we should be back in the thick of things next year."
Snedden, on the other hand, has not been as fortunate to have a large group of teammates. The soft-spoken senior ran on a team that consisted of only five members -- not enough to make Glen Burnie eligible for team titles.
"I wish that we could have competed as a team, but it's no big deal.
Besides, you get more coaching when there aren't as many people," he said.
In addition to winning the county meet, Snedden finished second to Old Mill's Scott Boetig (who broke a Catonsville Community College Course record) in the regional meet and nipped Boetig to gain sixth-place honors in the state meet at Hereford in Baltimore County.
During the regular season, he captured first in the Queen Anne's Invitational and second in the Baltimore Metro and North County invitationals.
With results such as these, it's no wonder that opposing coaches shower Snedden with accolades.
"I'll tell you, he could run for me any time," said Kiple. "He really does run a nice race, and he has a tremendous kick as well. Yeah, I'd take him at a bat of an eyelash."
Without a whole lot of rah-rah and fanfare, Snedden led his small band of teammates (which included All-County runner Cindy Silate) by example, said Glen Burnie head coach Dave Schneeberg.
"He had a great season. He didn't win all of the big races, but he came on very strong toward the end of the year," Schneeberg said. "Not a lot of people know this, but the week before the states, he had injured his foot, and he still did well. He just has a lot of heart and desire."
While also a member of the indoor and outdoor track teams, Snedden, who prefers cross country, dedicates the entire school year to running.
However, he'd rather train for cross country.
"I find it a little easier to train for because you're basically working on one thing, rather than working on three or four different events in track," he said.
After this school year, Snedden plans to participate in all three sports at either the University of Maryland Baltimore County or Frostburg State.