Mike Mamo and Liz Neglia had reason to be overjoyed after yesterday's 43rd Johns Hopkins Spiked Shoe Cross Country Invitational, but it wasn't apparent by their post-race demeanor.
Mamo, a junior at Milford Mill, shaved 13 seconds off the course record, but after winning the race in 16 minutes, 42 seconds would say only, "I had no reason to run that badly."
Runner-up Gavin McCarty, at 16:48, was the only one even close to Mamo, as no other runner came close to breaking 17 minutes on the 5,000-meter course.
For Neglia, a freshman at Frederick, winning a major race in her third varsity start also was greeted with little emotion. "I knew it was within reach, but I didn't know if I could do it," she said matter-of-factly.
"Now, it's the next meet. My goal is to take one meet at a time and then win the state title," she said.
Loyola, in the boys division, and Frederick, in the girls division, were runaway team winners against a field somewhat depleted by yesterday's Pallotti Invitational.
Beth Thompson of Frederick and Fidel Sampedro of Calvert Hall won the developmental races.
Mamo was initially boxed in and had a hard time moving up in the field. He is also recovering from a pulled groin muscle. "I didn't feel good the whole time," said Mamo, who credited pressure from McCarty with boosting him on.
"You know how you hear people behind you? I heard him and ran faster," he said, "although in the third mile I still ran terrible."
So, why the record? "I didn't know that," said Mamo, visibly surprised.
Milford Mill coach Jess Hannon did not share Mamo's downbeat assessment of his race. "Mike's not satisfied and said that he never got his rhythm or felt comfortable. But he's an intense competitor who, for the first race of the season, hit what we wanted," he said.
At age 14, Neglia is no stranger to qualifying -- and winning. She was the AAU national age-10 cross country champion in 1987. Then, after a year off to concentrate on swimming, she won the AAU national age-12 1,500 meters (in 4:52) and 3,000 meters (10:30).
"She's a fantastic kid who ran a great race today," said Cadets coach Jim Weir, "but the whole team ran well."
That may be an understatement. Behind Neglia, the Cadets placed Jen Krantz (third) Jennie Novak (fifth), Becky Novak (seventh) and Kare Schaffran (10th) in the top 10. That accumulated only 22 team points, enough to easily outdistance a good field. Mount de Sales was second with 77 points.
Loyola's Matt Beliveau and Eric McCarty placed sixth and seventh -- one second apart -- in helping the Dons to 45 team points. Runner-up Gilman had 68.