When looking at their team's performance in the 17th Westminster Invitational, Jason Santucci and Greg Fisher said No. 2 Westminster had a bit of an off-day.
But that off-day was still plenty good enough as the Owls placed five runners in the top 15 and rolled to an easy victory yesterday at Western Maryland College.
Greg Vincent of Dulaney won the boys race in 16 minutes, 37 seconds, beating South Carroll's Steve McClearn by 20 seconds.
But then came the Owls -- en masse. Santucci (third, 17: 06), Fisher (fifth, 17: 35), Ross Bair (sixth, 17: 44), Josh Davis (11th, 18: 01) and Jesse O'Connell (15th, 18: 14) combined to blitz the pack.
Westminster finished with 40 points, easily topping county rival South Carroll (74) and Linganore (107).
"That's an off-day?" asked South Carroll coach Rob Pennington. kids ran the race of their life, and they still beat us by 34 points."
Westminster is trying to repeat as Class 4A state champion. The Owls, who have a perfect record this season, were coming off a win at the tough Lancer Invitational last weekend at Linganore.
"The guys want to be as good as they were last year," said Westminster coach Dave Cox. "I think we're showing what we can [be]. Now we've just got to work."
Both Santucci and Fisher, the team's top two runners, set that pace for the Owls. The pair are hard workers but know that the Owls can't sit on what they accomplished -- and that everyone will gun for them.
"Everyone wants to say they got a piece of us," said Santucci, a transfer from Virginia. "We know we're marked men."
South Carroll tried but couldn't quite hit that mark. The Cavaliers put five runners in the top 25 and made things interesting.
After McClearn, Matt Adami (14th), Steve Hammel (16th), Dan Tompkins (18th) and Adam McCready (24th) helped the rapidly improving Cavaliers take second.
Vincent took the race by making a strong move midway through after running in a tight pack early.
"I just tried to pick it up a little bit, and then progressed from there," said Vincent.
C. Milton Wright senior Kelly Coogan left little doubt in the girls race. Coogan sprinted to a lead right at the start and finished in 19: 26, easily beating South Carroll's Jill Krebs (20: 33) and Kate Frande of Mount Hebron (20: 42).
"Starting fast is what I planned to do," said Coogan. "I thought that would put me in the lead."
Top-ranked Dulaney took the team title with 57 points, holding off No. 9 Mount de Sales (72) and topping No. 2 Westminster (107). Marjorie Bollinger (fourth), Kerrie Haacke (seventh) and Bianca Jay (ninth) all finished in the top 10 for Dulaney.
Pub Date: 9/18/97