Anne Arundel Community College's trip to Alfred, N.Y., last weekend for the JuCo cross country nationals turned into "a humbling experience," said coach Jim Fontaine.
More than 500 runners from 28 states and 16 countries took part, and they had to endure a hilly course left muddy from two days of rain.
"We haven't seen hills like that before," said Anne Arundel's Bobby Downs. "Those weren't hills, they were mountains."
And they were too steep for the Pioneers.
Downs took 24th place on the men's side, finishing in 29 minutes, 12 seconds.
Lynn Kurchock came in 17th at 23:12, enabling the Pioneer women to finish seventh. But she didn't attain All-America honors. "We're still very proud of her and the season she had," Fontaine said.
"The caliber of competition was incredible and the course was really tough. We just couldn't believe how hard it was," he added.
"We had a great season. We're proud of the way they ran and the way they stuck together. Now, we look forward to building a team for next year."
Anne Arundel opens its 1994-95 season Saturday at home against Ocean County College (N.J.), which is ranked No. 5 in Division III.
The Pioneers are ranked No. 20 in Division II, which coach Tom Smith called "surprising." But that doesn't mean he isn't anticipating another strong showing.
Last year, they went 18-4 and won the Maryland JuCo Tournament, but were upset by Garrett in the first round of the Region XX Tournament.
Two key players have left since then -- point guard Alina Smith, who averaged eight points, and forward Lindee Sisk (15 ppg).
The key returnee is 5-foot-11 center Debbi Dadds, who averaged 18.2 points last year and led all JuCo schools in the nation in rebounding with an 18.1 average.
She joins shooting guard Denise Perrone (12 ppg), small forward Brandee Snyder (7 ppg), shooting guard Stephanie Carpenter (5 ppg) and power forward Jen Shanahan (6 ppg). Carpenter is recovering from a knee injury.
Eight new players are on the roster: point guard Courtney Finch, shooting guard Ginger Breneman, small forward Ann Breneman (all from Arundel), point/shooting guard Dara Cohen (Roosevelt), small/power forward Chiara Lee (Southern), forward/center Jen Walsh (Old Mill), guard/forward Kristen Fogarty (California) and point/shooting guard Rosie Ung (Broadneck).
"We need to work a lot more on our offense, but we've been playing well defensively," said Smith, whose team is picked to finish second in the region behind Frederick.