KEMPTOWN -- Carroll County's premier distance runners in their respective divisions won individual titles, and South Carroll continued to press Westminster for a team title in the sixth annual Lancer Invitation cross country meet at Kemptown Park yesterday.
For Westminster, senior Jason Santucci and junior Josh Davis continued to provide a 1-2 punch, the former remaining unbeaten with a time of 16 minutes, 16 seconds, as he forged ahead in the final strides.
Davis, who had been running with him for most of the final 100-yard straightaway, was five yards back in 16: 17.04.
The Owls, whose other scorers finished eighth, 17th, and 18th, held off South Carroll, which packed its first five into the top 15 finishers.
Westminster finished with 46 points to 55 for South Carroll. Magruder was third, 84.
Bobby Mead, winner of the unseeded race for large schools at Hereford two weeks ago (the Cavaliers won that division's team title) placed fifth in 16: 51.09, and the team's other scorers were 10th, 11th, 14th, and 15th.
Colleen Lawson, a North Carroll sophomore, continued to demolish her opposition. A newcomer to the sport, she ran 19: 32.01 for the three miles, and at the finish had 170 yards on runner-up Liz Lowrie of Urbana, 19: 50.06.
Earlier in the year, she had been second at the Westminster Invitational, and first in the unseeded section of the large schools race at Hereford.
Middletown won the girls team title with 75 points, followed by Dulaney, 80. Three points separated the next three, as Urbana had 83, Westminster, 84, and Linganore 85.
At Hereford, Dulaney had won with Middletown fourth, but the Lions had three of their top seven out with nagging injuries. "Our goal was to run the best we could, and to be that close -- it was a tremendous effort," said coach Chad Boyle.
"This was the best race of my life with someone from my team right with me," said Santucci, defending state Class 4A champion. "It's really a tough course. The first mile is so flat everybody goes out fast. The middle mile is hilly and there was where we moved."
Davis, a team co-captain with another junior, Jesse O'Connell, said, "Our double-team was awesome. We ran right next to each other and when we moved, it would mentally crush others. We work as a team so well."
At Hereford, one second also separated their 1-2 finish.
"The race is not necessarily to the fastest runner," Santucci added. "It's about who maintains the toughest pace. It's mental."
Davis, the Owls' No. 3 runner last fall, had an outstanding indoor and outdoor track season, and now calls that, "the turning point of my career." It provided a foundation for him to come out this fall and seriously challenge Santucci.
"You're only as good as the people you run with, so I think this says something about my ability to run better." Or, as second-year coach Dave Cox pointed out, "Bwtween last year and this, he's learned how to run." South Carroll coach Rob Pennington said his team has been close to Westminster all season, but, "Their 1-2 are tough to beat, but even so, the gap stays about the same, and we're right there. We need to put three in ahead of their three to have a chance, and so far Jesse O'Connell hasn't let us.
"He's run some great races -- stepped up when they needed him.
Pub Date: 10/11/98