Westminster's Recek captures boys 4A race in a photo finish

November 13, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Westminster junior Mike Recek was 15 yards from the finish line, and suddenly his body wouldn't work anymore.

His legs were wobbly, he was dehydrated, he could barely breathe, his eyes began to roll back in his head and all he wanted to do was fall down.

But he had promised himself and his father, Mike Sr., that he was going to win the state 4A cross country championship race yesterday at Hereford High.

So Recek willed himself across the finish line, doing a swan dive to nip Quince Orchard's Brian Hetherington by a split second for first place.

Recek was so worn out, he collapsed on the ground for a few seconds before being moved off to the side by race officials.

Westminster coach Jim Gilford picked Recek up and helped him walk to the team bus, where the runner recovered fully in 10 minutes.

"I was out of it," said Recek. "I extended myself to the limits, but I'm OK now."

His father said: "I'm not sure Mike had it in him [to finish], but he wouldn't let it go. He was completely spent. When he started to stumble, I said, 'Oh my God.' "

For a few seconds, Gilford said he thought that maybe Recek had lost.

"From where I was watching, I wasn't sure if Mike had made it across the finish line," said Gilford. "It was one of the most unbelievable efforts I've ever seen. It was scary to see him go down. I had told Mike and all my runners all morning long to keep drinking water to avoid being dehydrated, but I guess it still wasn't enough for Mike."

Despite Recek's incredible finish, the Westminster boys (142 points) finished fourth in the 4A standings behind first-place Quince Orchard (53), second-place Perry Hall (93) and third-place Richard Montgomery (118).

Recek and Hetherington were both clocked in 18 minutes, 16 seconds over the tough, 11-hill, 3.1-mile course at Hereford. But Recek was given the split-second nod by the finish-line judges.

"I'm sure Mike doesn't care how small a margin he won by," said Gilford. "Just so he won. Our team is a little disappointed with the fourth-place finish, but I told them they have to realize how tough the 4A class is."

The fourth-place showing makes it 12 straight years that Westminster has finished in the top four teams in the state 4A meet.

The second Westminster runner to finish was W. C. Knight, who was 25th with a 19:01 time.

Two other Carroll County teams -- the 2A Liberty boys and the 1A Francis Scott Key girls -- came through with strong second-place finishes.

Liberty, led by Joe Ledda and Justin Combs -- nearly pulled off a major surprise by coming within five points (105) of first-place Oakland Mills (100 points).

Ledda (18:31) and Combs (18:45) were sixth and seventh, respectively.

Combs said: "Joe just has a better kick than I do. We went out together, and then he started to pull away from me."

The Key girls took second place in the 1A meet with 75 points. Boonsboro was first with 42 points, and Central was third at 106 points.

The Eagles girls had won the Carroll County championship and the 1A Central Region title behind Jen Moorman and Christine Harner.

Harner (23:07) was the first Key runner across the line yesterday, beating Moorman for only the third time this season to take 10th place. Moorman (23:32) was 16th.

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