Westminster's Gilford does it all

November 04, 1992|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

The first gold medal for bravery in this high school season goes to Westminster cross country coach Jim Gilford.

With raindrops falling all around him and impending darkness, Gilford did it all in the Carroll County high school cross country championships last Friday at Western Maryland College.

Gilford directed the entire varsity and junior varsity meet, coached the Westminster boys and girls teams, handed out team scores and individual results, and in his "spare time" conducted post-meet interviews.

Before the interviews began, a soaking- wet Gilford was asked if he wanted to go inside to talk about how his Owls won the boys and girls titles.

His reply was, "No. I can't get any wetter than this."

The first question someone might ask is why would Gilford risk so much for so little monetary gain or recognition?

The answer is simple.

Money and fame are not part of a cross country coach's vocabulary. He or she coaches simply for the love of the sport.

Gilford was doing the work of three people and loving every minute of it.

That's why he was willing to stand dripping wet in the darkness and talk more cross country instead of going home or anywhere else where it might have been dry.

When Francis Scott Key cross country coach Jim Bullock was asked how Gilford managed to wear so many hats in one day, Bullock responded without hesitation, "He does it this way every year."

In other words, people have come to expect miracles of Gilford and they get them every year.

Gilford never complained a bit or asked for any help when it was over.

His enthusiasm for cross country has become incredibly contagious at Westminster High.

People all over the state were talking in disbelief about the turnout of 70 boys and 20 girls for cross country at Westminster this fall.

Even Gilford was shocked by the sudden influx of long-distance runners. He had to order more uniforms to accommodate the large numbers.

Those numbers and the talent that Gilford has every year has created a cross country dynasty for the Owls.

The Westminster boys won their ninth straight county title last Friday, and they're going for a third state 4A championship in four years.

The Owls girls won the Central Maryland Conference title last year and took the Carroll County championship this year.

The Westminster girls, without graduated star Stephanie Morningstar, were supposed to be vulnerable this season in the county. But only Francis Scott Key (44 points) challenged Westminster (26).

South Carroll boys cross country coach Rob Pennington best described the dominance of Westminster in the county.

"When my guys come out here [Western Maryland] and see Westminster, it's easy to get the feeling we don't have much of a chance," he said. "I think the best thing to do is to rearrange the boundaries in Carroll County so they don't include Westminster High. Put them in Howard or Frederick county, anywhere but Carroll County."

That's quite a tribute to Gilford.

There are some small rewards in the world of cross country, after all.

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