Santucci, Westminster boys lead state title charge Lawson wins 3A girls crown

S. Carroll boys take second straight

Cross country


A chant, "Carroll County, Carroll County," resounded through the gymnasium as the final award was announced yesterday at the Class 3A and 4A session of the state cross country championships at Hereford.

It was a boisterous acknowledgment that Carroll County runners had enjoyed a big day at the state meet -- claiming four state

championships, half of those awarded in the morning session.

The Westminster boys captured their third straight 4A crown. The Owls' Jason Santucci won his second individual title. South Carroll claimed its second 3A boys title. And North Carroll's Colleen Lawson won the 3A girls race.

"Three in a row -- only the second team ever to win three in a row," said Santucci after his race. "And that's the lowest score ever in 4A."

The Owls packed five runners into the top 16 to score 41 points and defeat a strong Walt Whitman team by nine points. Westminster's Josh Davis finished sixth in 17 minutes, 2 seconds, followed by Jesse O'Connell, seventh in 17: 07; Tristan Gilbert, 11th in 17: 14; and Kevin Pool, 16th in 17: 29.

Santucci moved into the lead just past the two-mile point of the race, then exchanged it with Whitman's Phil Knowlton before pulling away in the last half-mile to win by five seconds in 16: 39.

"We had some guys really step up and come through," said Santucci of his teammates' performance, which brought second-year coach Dave Cox his second state title.

It was also the second championship in a row for South Carroll coach Rob Pennington. As he looked on near the finish chute, he saw six of his yellow-and-gold-clad runners finish in the top 20.

Steve Hammel and Bobby Mead surged in the last mile to finish third and fifth, respectively, both timed in 17: 08. Dan Tompkins came across the line ninth at 17: 30. Matt Adami was 14th; Doug Harmer, 18th; and Peter Hamlington, 20th.

"They did everything they wanted to do," said Pennington, who is in his eighth year as coach of the Cavaliers. "That's the way they have run all season. They knew what they had to do, and they did it."

The Cavaliers scored 47 points. C. Milton Wright of Bel Air was second with 75, and Damascus, third at 119.

In the Class 3A girls race, Lawson felt no pressure as she prepared for her first state cross country meet.

"I knew there was a lot of good competition," said Lawson, a 5-foot-1, 85-pound sophomore who began running last spring. "But our coach told us to just relax, go out, and have fun. That's what I tried to do."

Lawson ran in fourth place early in the race, then took the lead. "I was looking for a place to surge," she said. She held off a challenge by Catonsville's Tricia O'Connell near the end to win by 25 yards in 19: 56.

South Carroll's Lindsey Schwartz finished 11th in the same race in 21: 18.

In the 4A girls race, Holly Thompson placed ninth in 20: 46 to lead the Westminster girls to fifth place among 16 teams. Her teammate Kate Henshaw was 16th in 21: 02.

In the Class 2A boys race, Colin Russell of Francis Scott Key finished 19th in 18: 05.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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