BOYS RUNNER OF THE YEAR
Mike Recek, Westminster, Jr. -- Dominated the opposition most of the season, losing only one race in nine starts and that was to Oakland Mills standout Greg Curtis in the Westminster Invitational in Recek's second race of the year. He finished second by nine seconds to Curtis but came back to win seven pTC consecutive races, including the Central Maryland Conference championship, the Carroll County championship, the Class 4A West Region title and the state 4A championship at Hereford, where he staged an amazing finish to nip Quince Orchard's Brian Hetherington at the wire with a swan dive. Recek was so dehydrated at the end of the race that he fell to the ground and had to be helped to the team bus to recuperate. His body wanted to fall 15 yards from the finish line at Hereford but Recek kept on running to fulfill a victory promise to himself and his father, Mike Sr. Westminster coach Jim Gilford said he had told all his runners all morning before the state race to drink plenty of fluids but he said Recek got so wrapped up in pre-race strategy that he only drank one mouthful of water.
BOYS COACH OF THE YEAR
Dan Jones, Liberty -- Easily the biggest honor of his young coaching career for Jones, who had to beat out a boys cross country coaching legend in Westminster's Jim Gilford for the award. Jones guided Liberty to a strong second-place team finish in the state 2A boys championships at Hereford, finishing a surprising five points (105) behind Oakland Mills (100). Jones and the Lions also finished second, just 10 points (41) in back of perennial champion Westminster (31) in the Carroll County championships. That was the closest the Liberty boys have come to beating Westminster for the county title. Jones took two exceptional runners, Joe Ledda and Justin Combs, this season and developed two rather inexperienced runners, Vince Novak and Ken Fischer, and that was enough to throw a scare into Westminster and Oakland Mills.
FIRST TEAM AT A GLANCE
Damon Battaglia, Francis Scott Key, Sr. -- He was basically the same runner as last year for Key, taking fifth in the county meet and 14th in the states to repeat as a first-team All-County choice. But this senior had a much more important leadership role this season, taking four freshmen runners under his wing and helping them contribute immediately for Key. That was good enough to take third in the state 1A team standings for the second straight year.
Justin Combs, Liberty, Sr. -- Another first-team All-County repeat choice from last season, Combs won a tri-meet at South Carroll Sept. 12 when teammate Joe Ledda did not run due to a death in his family. After gaining some confidence with that victory, Combs would beat Ledda three of the first four times they ran head-to-head before Ledda came back to defeat Combs in the Central Maryland Conference championships, the county championship race and the 2A states. But Combs had arrived and said the only thing separating him and Ledda was "Joe has a better finishing kick."
Greg Fisher, Westminster, Fresh. -- Young freshmen aren't supposed to be as consistent as Fisher was for the Owls this season. "I always knew where Greg was going to come in," said Westminster coach Jim Gilford, who always could expect to see Fisher finishing among the top three or four for his team. The highlights for Fisher were a fourth-place showing in the county and 10th in the Meade Invitational.
Bryan Gunning, North Carroll, Sr. -- A steady runner who gave the Panthers some much-needed top 10 finishes over the past two years in important meets, Gunning saved his best for the 2A states this season. In the last race of his North Carroll career, Gunning took 13th place over the hills at Hereford, a major improvement from 23rd in 1993. He turned in a second straight sixth-place finish in the Carroll County championships, earning a repeat selection to All-County first team.
Josh Heckathorn, Westminster, Jr. -- He always was hanging around the leaders when the results were tabulated. He came within one second (17:54, eighth place) of beating teammate W. C. Knight (17:53, seventh place) in the county championships. Heckathorn also took ninth in the Central Maryland title race and figures to be part of another strong Westminster team in 1995.
W. C. Knight, Westminster, Sr. -- In most of the big meets this season, Knight was the second Owls runner
across the finish line behind Mike Recek. Knight moved up to first team this season after being an honorable mention All-Carroll choice in 1993. Westminster coach Jim Gilford said that Knight got the most out of his ability. Knight's top effort came in the Waynesboro (Pa.) Invitational, where he took third.