1996 All-Metro cross country teams

November 23, 1996|By Steven Kivinski

Boy Runner of Year

David Chalmers, Gilman, senior: Chalmers shrugged off "walking pneu monia" and bronchitis and became the first Gilman runner to win the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's individual title.His time of 17: 28 at Goucher College not only earned him top individual honors but lifted the Greyhounds to their first postseason victory since 1980. "No one will know the pain he left out on that course that day," Gilman coach Jack Thompson said of Chalmers' gutsy win at Goucher. "He's the best runner I've ever had the pleasure of coaching." Chalmers, who earned All-Metro honors as a junior, won every race he ran but one, bowing only to Sharif Karie, a nationally-ranked runner from West Springfield, Va. He began the season with a bloody victory at the Spiked Shoe, cutting a shoulder while brushing a tree on the course. He was undefeated in the grueling MIAA dual-meet competition and proved he was the metro area's top runner by winning the Anne Arundel, Harford and Pallotti invitationals. He has been equally successful in the classroom, having received Gilman's Moorhead Scholarship nomination. "His discipline and determination are what set him apart," said Thompson.

Co-Coach of the Year

Jack Thompson, Gilman: Thompson, who is the MIAA's elder statesman, led the Greyhounds to their first league championship in 16 years. "It was my finest moment in cross country, and that says a lot because I've had a lot of fine moments with wonderful kids and runners," Thompson said, shortly after learning that his team had pulled off a 56-63 upset over regular-season champ and perennial league power Calvert Hall. Thompson, on Gilman's math faculty, took over the Greyhounds' cross country program in 1975 and led them to their first Maryland Scholastic Association meet championship in 1980. The wait made this year's season-ending victory taste that much sweeter. "It was the most satisfying season I've had in my 22 years," he said.

Co-Coach of the Year

Jim Gilford, Westminster: Gilford, who is stepping down as coach so he can spend more time with his family, goes out on top after leading the No. 1 ranked Owls to a sweep of state, Carroll County and Central Maryland Conference championships. During his 17-year tenure, Gilford guided Westminster to five state titles (four boys, one girls), 11 region championships (seven boys, four girls), 13 CMC crowns (10 boys, three girls) and 24 county titles (16, eight). "We came here to win," Owls senior Dave Barnes said at the state meet. "We wanted to send Coach Gilford out with a championship."

The first team

Dave Barnes, Westminster, senior: Barnes, a solid No. 2 runner for the Owls, pushed teammate and fellow All-Metro selection Greg Fisher hard all season. Barnes defeated Fisher three times -- by one second each time -- but took second to him in the Carroll County and Central Maryland Conference meets. His fourth-place finish at states helped the Owls win the Class 4A state title.

Eric Benjamin, C. Milton Wright, senior: Benjamin, who trained and raced with Harford County Track Club last summer, captured his third-straight Harford County championship at Harford Glen and became the third boy to win three times in the meet's 29-year history. He won the Class 3A North region title and finished third behind champion Jeff Olenick of Centennial and Linganore runner-up Jonathan Hayes at the state meet. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound senior won the Westminster Invitational, was second to Gilman's David Chalmers at the Spiked Shoe meet and was runner-up at the Arundel Invitational. He's the most consistent runner I've ever coached," said Mustangs coach Bob Johnson. "He's very focused and he never quits."

Tony Diem, Archbishop Curley, senior: Diem took a fall and had blood gushing out of a knee when he crossed the line in third place at the MIAA individual championships, contested at Goucher College. A talented runner and wrestler, Diem won the Fleet Feet Invitational in Reston, Va., the Mervo Mustangs Invitational at Herring Run Park and was third at the Knights Invite. The only person to beat him in the MIAA dual-meet competition was Metro Runner of the Year David Chalmers. "Tony shows a lot of heart every time he runs," said Curley coach Gene Hoffman. "He never gives up."

Greg Fisher, Westminster, junior: The Carroll County Runner of the Year rebounded from a hip injury that sidelined him for most of last season and established himself as the dominant runner in Carroll County and the Central Maryland Con- ference. The junior won the county title and outlasted defending champion Jonathan Hayes of Linganore and teammate Dave Barnes for the CMC crown. He also took ninth regionally and fifth in the state. "He's always been competitive," said Coach Gilford. "I knew he had the potential."

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