Course confusion costs Atholton a win

September 30, 1992|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Atholton freshman cross country runner Dana Strickland ha much to accomplish before becoming a great one, but she sure made it look effortless at Glenelg High School yesterday.

Unfortunately, she made a freshman mistake -- she ran slightly off course and was disqualified after posting what would have been the second-fastest course time (20 minutes). Her 20-second victory over defending county champion Alicia Adams Glenelg was nullified.

The disqualification also cost Atholton a two-point team victory, since the Gladiators were left with points for first, second, fourth, sixth and 11th place to beat Atholton, 24-32.

Strickland, who didn't break a sweat and whose closing kick was extraordinarily strong, wasn't aware she had strayed off course until 10 minutes after the race.

During the last mile of the race, she saw two orange traffic cones set up to block cars from crossing the course through a parking lot.

"It looked like you were supposed to run between them [cones]," she said. The cones led her through the parking lot, instead of over the true course -- the lot's perimeter.

It was hard to judge if the mistake helped or hurt her time.

"It might have meant eight or nine seconds difference [in her favor], it's hard to tell," said meet director and Glenelg coach Roger Volrath. "Maybe it wouldn't have made any. It was a tough decision to make."

Strickland was coming off a strong effort at the Pallotti Invitational Saturday in which she finished second in Division I and posted the fifth fastest overall girls time.

She earlier had won the Howard County Invitational and set a course record while winning a meet at Howard.

Adams, running just her third meet, had beaten Strickland earlier at the Westminster Invitational, and the two ran together about halfway yesterday before Strickland pulled away.

The two are expected to be the front-runners in the Howard County Championships Oct. 29.

The Glenelg girls, winners of the Howard County Invitational this season and seventh at Westminster, suffered a setback yesterday when Mary Marland was forced to drop out because of tightened calf muscles.

Glenelg's Kelly Pelovitz finished second in 21:49, and Atholton's Gail Hodges was third in 22:00.

In the boys division, Atholton's Bryan Townsend avenged two earlier defeats to Glenelg's Edward Hogan, running 17 minutes flat and beating Hogan by 32 seconds.

Atholton won the team battle, 25-32, earning points for first, third, sixth, 10th and 12th place.

Townsend, third at the Howard County Invitational and third at Westminster behind Hogan, who ran second in both those events, came up with something extra.

"I just felt better today," Townsend said. "I was mentally ready."

Townsend also ran impressively Saturday at Pallotti, recording the fourth-fastest overall time, 14:51, good for second place in Division I.

Not far behind Hogan yesterday was teammate Mike Strickland, Dana's brother, whose 17:39 encouraged his coach, Earl Lauer.

Hogan, who chased his brother and state champion Gerard all last season, hopes yesterday's race was a fluke.

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