1997 All-Anne Arundel County cross country teams

November 18, 1997|By STEVEN KIVINSKI

Coach of the Year

Ed Purpura, Severna Park: In his 10th season as coach, Purpura led Severna Park's girls team to its 12th county title in 14 years. The Falcons ended the season by winning the region championship and finishing second behind Dulaney in the Class 4A state meet. "The girls were disappointed about last year [when Arundel swept the county titles] and they really wanted to prove that it was a fluke. There was a lot of emotion and anxiety pent up over the entire year, and they really let it loose at the county meet," Purpura said. At the county championships, the Falcons placed a county-record five runners in the top seven. "I feel lucky that I have an athletic director [Wayne Mook] who lets me coach the way I want to coach," said Purpura, a physical education teacher at Richard Henry Lee Elementary School. "I'm also fortunate to have a group of kids that have a great attitude and work hard." The future is bright with only one runner, Kelly Hepburn, being lost to graduation.

Boys

Runner of the Year

John Thomas, Meade, Senior: For the second straight season, Thomas was the area's most consistent runner. The defending county champion lost to Ben Baxter at this year's county championship but defeated him in three of their other four meetings. Thomas finished fourth at regionals behind three runners from top-ranked Westminster and turned in a county-best seventh-place finish at states. He was the top county finisher at the Anne Arundel Invitational (sixth) and the Meade Autumn Classic (sixth). "He learned this year that he doesn't have to win it from the gun," said Meade coach Jay Cuthbert. "At states, his expectations were more realistic, and he stayed focused and ran a good race."

The team

Adam Bange, Chesapeake, Junior: Bange, a true middle-distance runner, won quad meets at Chesapeake and Glen Burnie and was eighth at the Anne Arundel County Championships. "He's moving right along on schedule," said Cougars coach John Maguire. "If he continues at his current pace, he can be as good as anybody."

Ben Baxter, Arundel, Senior: Baxter, the consummate team player, won the county championship in 17: 08 and helped the Wildcats win their second straight county title. He finished fourth at the Class 4A East regional meet but suffered a broken collarbone while playing basketball during a gym class and was forced to sit out states. "He was really brokenhearted that he couldn't compete, but he still came to every practice and was there to support the team at the state meet," said Arundel coach Ralph Luce. "His profile was, team first." During the regular season, Baxter took first at the Anne Arundel Invitational, was runner-up at the North County Invite and was seventh at the Meade Autumn Classic.

Chris Dyer, Arundel, Junior: Dyer's sixth-place finish at the Anne Arundel County Championships helped the Wildcats claim their second straight county title. "He's an efficient runner," Luce said. "He's the fastest quarter-miler on the team, and I predict that at some point in time he will amaze."

Ben Morris, Annapolis, Junior: Morris led the county meet at the two-mile mark but couldn't hold the pace and settled for fourth. He finished sixth at the Class 4A East regional meet and narrowly missed medaling at states, where he finished 17th. "He has a lot of potential, and he hasn't peaked," said Annapolis coach Tom Neiles. "He's one of these kids you want to wrap up and take home."

Matt Ostrye, Severna Park, Junior: Ostrye was the main reason the Falcons were able to finish second in the county, third in the region and 12th in the state. The talented junior rebounded from a midseason leg injury and finished fifth in the county meet. Said Purpura: "He was third in the county indoors last year in the two-mile, so we expected him to be an all-county performer and he lived up to those expectations."

Mike Rolland, Broadneck, Junior: Rolland finished seventh at the county championships and was in the top 10 at the Class 3A East regional meet. "He was our mainstay," said Broadneck coach Jerry Kiple, whose boys finished third in the county and regional meets and 11th at states. "He likes to do well, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to get there."

Todd Warner, Arundel, Junior: Warner somersaulted over the finish line at the county meet in celebration of his third-place finish and his team's county title. He finished eighth in the regionals and 11th at states. "He surprises you every time he goes out," Luce said. "He goes out to set a personal best every time, and just about every race was a personal best."

Girls

Runner of the Year

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