The Westminster boys cross country team usually saves its worst race of the year for the regional meet.
Yesterday, the Owls had what coach Jim Gilford labeled their worst race of the year, finishing third at the Class 4A West Region championship meet at Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg.
Walt Whitman and Quince Orchard, both Montgomery County schools, finished first and second, respectively.
Westminster's girls finished a distant second to Quince Orchard to also qualify for next week's state championship meet at Hereford High School. The South Carroll and North Carroll boys teams and Liberty's girls team also qualified for the state meet.
"It's probably better to run better next week than this week," said Gilford, the Owls' 17-year coach who is retiring at the end of the season. "We train similarly every year, and maybe that's it. We run well at the [Central Maryland] Conference meet and at the counties every year. Then we don't do well at regionals. We lost to Whitman by 15 [in the regional meet last year], then lost to them by 8 at the states."
Last week, Westminster won its 17th consecutive Carroll County championship. One week earlier, the Owls captured their 10th straight Central Maryland Conference title.
Westminster last won a state title in 1991, and an end to that five-year drought seems unlikely with defending state champion Whitman in this year's competition.
The Vikings began the season ranked in the top 25 nationally by The Harrier magazine and yesterday defeated second-place Quince Orchard by 36 points, 38-74.
"We thought we could run them closer," Gilford said. "All year long we didn't have more than one or two runners have a bad race on any given day. Today, we had three or four."
Westminster's top runner, Dave Barnes, finished fourth in 17 minutes. Josh Davis (17: 16) and Greg Fisher (17: 18) were eighth and ninth.
Whitman's Ed Tufaro won the boys race in 16: 35.
Sarah Brumfitt's 11th-place finish led the Westminster girls, who had their top five runners in the top 20. Teammates Angie Baer (14th, 21: 46), Jill Snavlin (15th, 21: 49), Sarah Balkhaus (17th, 21: 56) and Beth Viggliotti (20th, 22: 10) gave Westminster a wide margin over third-place Frederick.
Springbrook's Katy Orifici won the girls 4A race in 19: 47.
South Carroll's boys had the highest finish of Carroll County's Class 3A teams. The Cavaliers took fifth place behind Frederick County's Linganore and Damascus, Magruder and Walter Johnson, all of Montgomery County.
Steve McLearn (seventh, 17: 15) was the Cavaliers' top runner. South Carroll's Dan Tomkins, usually the school's fourth or fifth runner, took 23rd in 18 minutes. Sean Rayford (30th, 18: 13), Steve Hammel (40th, 18: 37) and Adam McCready (41st, 18: 37) rounded out the South Carroll squad.
North Carroll's Jeremy Cuno was Carroll County's top finisher in the boys 3A race, taking sixth in 17: 11.
Liberty's Gwen Gilmore was the first county runner to cross the line in the girls' 3A race, taking fifth in 20: 48 and leading her team to a sixth-place finish.
Pub Date: 11/01/96