Scott Boetig knows where he wants to go and how to get there. And the obstacles standing in his way are the same ones he's hurdled in thepast.
Boetig, who runs cross country for 10th-ranked Old Mill, isthe county's top returning harrier among the boys. He finished thirdin the county, first in the Class 4A Region IV meet and seventh in the Class 4A state meet.
His goals include winning county, regional and state titles, and he's hoping his experience -- not to mention his running skills -- will take him there.
Boetig tackles his first task in tomorrow's county meet at Annapolis High.
"I've been third in the counties for the last two years, so I'd definitely like to win it," said Boetig, 17.
He nipped county champion Sheridan Snedden of Glen Burnie for last year's regional title and has a solid chance to be a state champion.
"This year, more than any, I think the state title race is wideopen. I'm just about where I want to be -- around the top five, if not the top three (runners in the state)," he said.
One of his targets is Frederick's Tim Stahler, who was second in the state meet lastyear. Boetig already has a 2-1 series advantage in their meetings this year, including victories in the last two encounters.
They werethe top two 4A finishers in the Sept. 25 Western Maryland Invitational at Western Maryland College, with fourth-place Stahler (16 minutes, 48 seconds) edging Boetig (16:50).
Boetig was encouraged by his time, a personal best, because the invitational's 3.1-mile course is the site of the Nov. 9 state meet.
Ten days after Western Maryland, the two runners met again in the Anne Arundel Invitational.
Thistime, Boetig (17:06) not only won the overall title and beat fifth-place Stahler by 20 seconds, but he also faced Annapolis' third-place Eric Van Gieson, who was fourth in the county meet a year ago.
"There was also a guy from Quince Orchard (Troy Harry) who was second atthe Anne Arundel Invitational. And Eric and (Broadneck's Tim Collins) should be tough at the counties. But I've beaten Collins about three times," Boetig said.
The Baltimore Metro Invitational took placeOct. 11 at Catonsville Community College, which is also the site of the Nov. 1 regional meet. Boetig had a tougher time getting by Stahler, finishing fourth in 17:32, compared with Stahler's 17:39.
"It'salways good to have seen your competition and the courses to have a feel for what you've got to do," said Old Mill coach Gary Bater. "Butyou don't know if he's (Boetig) going to be feeling well or if the other guy's going to have a good day from one meet to the next."
Bater's Patriots, who were third in last year's meet, will have to be in top form to catch Ed Purpura's Severna Park squad tomorrow.
Boetig's younger brother, Brad, a junior, was 12th in last year's county meet, and senior Shaun Black was 11th. Bater hopes to get steady efforts from Dave Cavanaugh and Corey Tomlinson as well.
At Western Maryland, the No. 7-ranked Falcons boys finished far ahead of Old Mill in the final standings.
The Falcons boast Brian Kaupa (seventh in county), Jim Jancowski (10th), Rich Jones (13th) and Jeremy Kakulis (17th). Kaupa was 19th in the state meet, but newcomer Jarrett Hon hasemerged as the Falcons' top runner.
"The closest they've (Old Mill) come to us is between 20 or 30 points," said Purpura, whose boys finished second to Broadneck last year. "The counties are a much smaller meet, so naturally I expect they can get closer. But I'm confidentwe'll win."
So are his second-ranked Fal
con girls, behind favored Fran Mackney, the county meet runner-up last year.
The Falcons' girls, who nipped second-place Meade in a tie-breaker last year, are going after their ninth straight title.
"Last year was pretty scary," Purpura said. "But we had some injuries. This year, I don't see us being touched."
But the ninth-ranked Patriots are out to prove Purpura wrong, after a third-place finish a year ago. The Patriots boast top runner Marissa Sanders, who was fourth in the county last year.
Glen Burnie's Cindy Silate, third in the county last year, isan outside threat, as is Meade's Amy Bell (fifth).
Mackney (20:00) defeated both Silate (20:32, second) and Sanders (21:09, fourth) tocapture the county invitational.
Old Mill's Jessica Davis (21:33)was seventh.