Schedule mix-up precludes showdown

October 05, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

The hot Westminster-Liberty boys cross country rivalry became a little more heated yesterday, thanks to a scheduling mix-up.

The 10-time defending county champion Owls were expected to travel to Liberty for a tri-meet against the Lions and South Carroll, but Westminster never showed up.

That prompted Liberty runner Ken Fischer to say: "I really think they want to wait and run us on their home course in the CMCs [Central Maryland Conference championships at Westminster High] and the county championships [at Western Maryland College]."

Westminster coach Jim Gilford scoffed at any such idea. He said he had two schedules that had the meet being conducted at Westminster.

"Race day is always a big day for our kids, and I spent 1 1/2 hours yesterday marking off our course," said Gilford. "I'm livid about this mix-up, but I don't know who to blame. How could anybody believe we wouldn't want to run at Liberty? We've run there twice in recent years and won big both times. Besides that, we beat Liberty pretty handily in the Westminster Invitational [60-156]."

South Carroll and Liberty had schedules showing the tri-meet at Liberty.

So the much-anticipated showdown between defending Carroll County champion Joe Ledda of Liberty and Westminster's Mike Recek never came off, much to the disappointment of everybody involved.

Ledda, off to a bit of a slow start, has predicted that Liberty would end Westminster's long reign in the county championships at Western Maryland Oct. 28.

Gilford said he and his team were waiting in Westminster for Liberty and South Carroll while the Lions and Cavaliers were waiting in Eldersburg.

Gilford said it took him until 3:30 p.m. to find out that the tri-meet was supposed to be run at Liberty, and by that time, it was too late to get a bus.

"I called Steve Thomson [Westminster athletic director] and he wasn't in and then I called Liberty and South Carroll and found out those teams were at Liberty," said Gilford. "I was told I could take five boys and five girls in my car if I wanted, since I was the coach. But parents weren't allowed to drive the kids. I have a lot more runners than that, so I decided it wasn't fair just to take five from each team."

Finally, after delaying the start of the meet by 35 minutes, Liberty coach Dan Jones and South Carroll co-coaches Rob Pennington and Dale Hooper decided to run a dual meet.

The only thing that saved the day was an exciting boys race to the finish line, with Ledda (16 minutes, 55 seconds) beating teammate Justin Combs (16:56) by one second.

Ledda is 2-3 against Combs as the teammates continue to battle each other and hope to beat Recek.

"That isn't going to happen," said Gilford. "Mike Recek beat Ledda by one minute in our invitational. I think Liberty is a little confused to believe they can beat us just because they have their best team ever."

The Liberty boys (17-42) and girls (25-31) teams won the dual meet against South Carroll.

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