Carroll County dominates states again Area's five high schools account for four of eight individual, team titles

Cross country

November 18, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Carroll County cross country teams put on quite a show during last Saturday's state championship meet at Hereford.

Westminster's boys won the Class 4A title for the third straight year, led by repeat champion Jason Santucci. South Carroll's boys took their second straight Class 3A state title. And for good measure, first-year runner Colleen Lawson of North Carroll won the state title in the girls' Class 3A.

The bottom line is that Carroll County runners or teams took half of the Class 3A and 4A team and individual titles. Not bad for a county that has just five schools, and the best may be yet to come.

Carroll County teams have always done well in track and field and cross country but really have stepped up in recent years. There's the feeling in the county that other areas overlook the five schools here, but that habit may be finished.

"I think having walked out of the morning awards with four of the eight championship trophies says something for Carroll County," said Westminster boys coach Dave Cox, who has won state titles in both of his years in charge. "Going by the idea that success breeds success, I'm hoping there's more to come. I don't remember a time when cross country was this strong in the county."

Take a look at his Owls, for example. Westminster loses two-time state champion Santucci, but Josh Davis will step up into the No. 1 spot next year. Davis would be the top runner on most teams but has been groomed behind Santucci and, before this year, Greg Fisher.

Davis finished sixth in the Class 4A state title race, five seconds and one place ahead of teammate Jesse O'Connell. Both are juniors and return next year as Westminster has six of its top seven runners back and a number of good prospects.

South Carroll is in a similar situation. The Cavaliers were a bit of a surprise winning the region and state titles last year. They lost their top runner from that team, Steve McClearn, but coach Rob Pennington had a much deeper squad this season that showed opponents how to run in a pack.

The Cavaliers were so deep that they easily won the Class 3A West Region meet without top runner Bobby Mead -- and would have captured the state title even if his groin injury had sidelined him once more.

South Carroll put five runners in the top 18 in this race, all within 50 seconds of each other, making it a team tough to beat. Five of the Cavaliers' top eight runners also return, including Mead and Matt Adami, two sophomores who've been strong since their first day.

"I think the team's confidence level is there now," said Pennington. "They knew what to do this year, and when it was time for them to step up, they did their job."

Dan Tompkins is a senior who won't be back but is optimistic that the Cavaliers will again be one of the state's best next year.

"We have some freshmen coming up that are just as good," said Tompkins. "We can hopefully keep repeating."

Lawson also may be tough to beat next year. While working hard at learning the sport this fall, Lawson was beating nearly everyone.

fTC Earlier this year, in fact, C.M. Wright's Heather McHugh handed Lawson a rare loss. Lawson came back later in the season to beat her. Lawson then topped her again in the state meet, edging Tricia O'Connell of Catonsville by four seconds and McHugh by 12.

The bad news for Lawson's opponents -- she's just a sophomore. So, like most of the South Carroll and Westminster boys, she'll be back again next year.

Pub Date: 11/18/98

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