Kicking soccer, 1st-year runner wins, wins, wins Cross country: Having already captured conference, county and region titles, North Carroll's Colleen Lawson's next goal is tomorrow's Class 3A state championship.

November 13, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

North Carroll coach Tom Davidson said first-year runner Colleen Lawson is still learning about cross country. Her opponents probably think she knows it rather well.

Lawson went out for the sport after a change of heart about soccer. She quickly became one of the area's top runners and, after victories in the Central Maryland Conference, county and region meets, is one of the favorites for the Class 3A state title race at Hereford tomorrow.

Lawson ran well in outdoor track this spring, taking second in the county in the 3,200 meters and third in the 1,600. She also ran on North Carroll's 3,200-meter relay team that qualified for the state meet.

4 Cross country has brought her even more success.

Lawson started winning early in the season and hasn't stopped. After strong performances in the Spiked Shoe (third) and the Westminster Invitational (second), she won the Hereford and Linganore invitationals before sweeping the CMC, county and region meets by strong margins.

Lawson won the Class 3A North region meet in style, running a career-best time of 18: 42 on a 40-degree afternoon last Thursday to score a big victory.

Up next, the state meet.

"I'm pretty nervous," said Lawson. "I know we have a really tough class, and we have tough competition."

Lawson also was ecstatic about the fact that North Carroll qualified as a team for the state meet. Her teammates practically mobbed her in the minutes after the region meet, thanking her over and over again.

"We [made it] because of Colleen," said senior Jen Bundra. "It's just like a dream."

Lawson now has her own dream for tomorrow's race. Having to battle against some tough runners, especially Heather McHugh, of Harford County's C. Milton Wright, Lawson faces a tough task. This also is McHugh's first year running, and she has taken Harford County by storm much like Lawson has Carroll County.

McHugh posted an impressive performance in winning the recent county meet at Bel Air, and she'll be one of Lawson's toughest competitors. The pair have split their two races against each other, Lawson winning at the Hereford Invitational. Lawson wants to be in top form this weekend.

"I want to work hard so I can do well," said Lawson. "It pushes me harder."

Davidson also said Lawson has slowly been realizing her talent. The coach said that has helped her improve, and it's something she'll need this weekend.

"I think she feels good about where she's at," said Davidson. "From the beginning of the season until now, confidence has been a big hurdle to overcome, and she's got some now."

Davidson said being a force in the race early and not sitting back will be the key for Lawson. The coach said it's important for Lawson to go out early and take charge of the race as she runs well from the front.

Lawson said she's tried to keep her success in perspective.

"I'm proud of what I've done," said Lawson. "But I know I can't come back next season and just say that I can beat everybody, or everybody will beat me. I just can't come back with a big head."

Westminster girls coach Jim Shank has not been surprised by Lawson's success. He remembers how well Lawson did last spring, running evenly with girls on his team who participated in indoor track -- while Lawson hadn't.

In other words, she was running stride-for-stride with girls who had two more months of training.

"As soon as I heard she was coming out, I pretty much knew she would take care of the county," said Shank. "And that's what she did."

Pub Date: 11/13/98

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