After Perry Hall strays, Dulaney scores a double Vincent takes 3rd title

Lions boys, girls triumph

Cross country

October 29, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Perry Hall's string of 13 consecutive Baltimore County cross country championships came to a controversial end yesterday at Hereford High School just after Dulaney's Gene Vincent won his third straight county title.

Meet officials ruled that two of the Gators' top-three finishers in the boys race ran off course, automatically disqualifying both and allowing Dulaney to squeak out a five-point victory.

Head referee Gil Stange was forced to disqualify Andy Hart, who crossed the line fourth, and John Kappes, who was seventh, after several officials saw them and Woodlawn's Clevon Jones run on the wrong side of a soccer goal near the one-mile mark.

Their points would have given Perry Hall the title easily.

Dulaney finished with 47 points to Perry Hall's 52.

"Several officials at the finish line noted that the top three runners at that point in the race had run off the course," said Stange. "That's a direct violation of the rule, and it's irrelevant really whether they gained an advantage or not."

The National High School Federation Track and Field and Cross Country Rule Book provides no recourse other than disqualification for "a competitor who fails to complete the prescribed course defined by a legal marking system."

For longtime Perry Hall coach Jerry Martin, the post-race sting was quite evident.

"Everything happens for a reason, and that's all I have to say," said Martin, whose assistant coach, Marilyn Bevans, was the official assigned to the area near the soccer goal in question. "We ran to expectations and beyond."

The incident helped give Dulaney the sweep, as the Lions -- led by boys winner Vincent (16: 46) and girls winner Kerrie Haacke -- took home a pair of team championships.

Vincent, a senior who trailed early but came back to take the lead for good near the midway point, defeated Towson's Jason Mitchell by 43 seconds.

"I ran really, really smoothly," said Vincent, who said familiarity with the course was a big advantage over some of his less experienced opponents. "I feel like it was the best county championship I've ever run. I know this course, and I know where to make my moves."

He was followed by teammates Andy Gell (fifth), Steve Wheatley (ninth), Chris Streyle (11th) and Brett Harvey (21st).

Dulaney first-year coach Chad Boyle said the victory was marred somewhat by the circumstances.

"I hate to win that way, especially over such a class act like coach Martin. That hurts," said Boyle. "It makes it hard for me, because he's someone I've looked up to. He's really a great coach, and to lose like that is tough."

The Lions had a somewhat easier time in the girls race, as Haacke (first), Chrissy Dachille (third), Katie Lavezza (seventh), Jessica George (eighth) and Sara Hooper (11th) helped Dulaney finish with 30 points.

Parkville was second (73) and Perry Hall third (75).

For Haacke, who suffered a season-ending stress fracture to her left tibia early in last year's county championship, the victory helped erase a very bad memory.

"Before the race, I was really nervous," said Haacke, who had to slow her pace after going out too fast. "I put a lot of pressure on myself."

Catonsville freshman Trisha O'Connell finished second, closing fast near the finish line to make a race of it. She was followed by four sophomores -- Dachille, Katie Pfeifer (Catonsville), Kristy Geroux (Parkville) and Laura Brazil (Perry Hall).

This day, however, belonged to Dulaney.

For Boyle, who replaced legendary coach Bob Dean, the meet will be a lasting memory.

"If you would have told me on Aug. 15 that we would do this well I wouldn't have believed it," said Boyle. "Both of our teams ran their hearts out."

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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