As forecast, Simmons claims another title Cross country

November 14, 1993|By Bill Blewett | Bill Blewett,Contributing Writer

Nothing seemed to shake the confidence of Bobby Simmons yesterday at the state cross country championships at Hereford High School.

The Joppatowne senior predicted he would win the Class 1A race over the intimidating Hereford 3-mile course, on which he had never competed. And he did, becoming the first Harford County boy in 12 years to win back-to-back state titles.

"I had it in my mind. I wasn't going to lose this race," said Simmons, who won the 1A championship at Westminster last year.

Neither steep hills, mid-race maneuvering, nor an injury caused him to waiver.

Simmons awoke yesterday with extreme soreness in a calf muscle. The injury occurred when he and other students celebrated on the football field after Joppatowne's come-from-behind regional football victory Friday night.

"I didn't know if I could run," he said. "It was pretty sore and swollen. It bothered me going down the hills more than going up."

Despite the soreness, Simmons surged into the lead on most of the downhill stretches, as he and three others exchanged the pace-setting at least a dozen times. But on one steep upgrade near mid-race, he slowed noticeably and dropped back to second.

"I waited for [the second-place runner]," he said. "I wanted to see how strong he was, what he would do."

Simmons, whose team has drilled on hills all season, put the race away on a downhill with a half-mile to go. He surged to a 6-second lead then bounced up the last incline to finish 25 yards ahead of Brian Schnebly of Clear Spring in 16 minutes, 23 seconds.

His victory was not enough to carry Joppatowne to its third straight team title, however. The Mariners had only one other runner in the top 50 -- Keith Phillips (17:50) at 28th-- and placed seventh.

Simmons' victory was the only one of the day for Harford County, despite strong team performances by Fallston and C. Milton Wright. Fallston placed second in 2A girls. Wright was second in 3A boys and fourth in 3A girls.

The Mustangs' boys were the first team to put five runners across the finish line in 3A. But Centennial's first four beat Wright's man-for-man to win, 79-95. The runner-up trophy was small consolation for the Mustangs, who had their sights on the school's first boys state title and whose leader, Brian Harris, was favored for the individual crown.

Harris, with only one loss coming into the state meet, ran with a lead pack of five through half the race, then dropped back, still feeling the effects of recent allergy problems. He finished 11th in 16:41.

His teammate Steve Donahue stayed with the leaders until the final hill to finish fifth in 16:12 behind winner Josh Orenstein of Walter Johnson (16:00). Chris Parkinson (17:12) was 24th; Dave Warnick (17:16) 28th; and Eric Benjamin (17:20) 31st for Wright.

Fallston was the surprise team of the 2A girls race. Led by junior Candy Credito, the Cougars finished with 82 points, behind favored Catonsville (43). Credito advanced three places with a strong kick in the final quarter-mile to finish sixth in 20:07. Behind her were Laurie Cicero (20:26, ninth place), Erin Chlumsky (20:46, 14th), Kelly Greer (20:59, 18th) and Shalini Ayyagari (22:13, 45th).

Sophomore Jenn Englehard (20:04) led the C. Milton Wright girls with an eighth-place finish, two spots ahead of Michelle Apland of Bel Air (20:20). With Amy Altmann (20:40, 16th), Michelle Edberg (20:52, 20th), Kris Sprucebank (21:48, 33rd) and Erin Bralich (21:59, 37th) the Mustangs scored 98 points. Linganore won with 70. Bel Air was 12th with 253.

Aberdeen's Christy Moon, the 1992 Harford County champ, was among the early leaders through the first mile of the 2A event but dropped back at mid-race to place 10th in 20:34. Harmony Mack of North Harford finished 30th in 21:44.

Alan Hitchings of Havre de Grace medaled in the 1A boys race, placing 14th in 17:12. In 1A girls, freshmen Nicia McAllister and Christy McKinnon paced the Harford Tech girls team to ninth place.

Fallston's Mike Martinek (48th in 18:06) and Jason Sayers (63rd in 18:23) were the top Harford finishers in the 2A boys race.

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