North Carroll's Lawson captures Class 3A girls title

River Hill's McDuff is 2nd

Westminster wins 4A boys

Cross country championship

High schools

November 14, 1999|By Andrea Leand | Andrea Leand,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Defending champion Colleen Lawson left her rival, Lee McDuff, in the dust and gasping for water after surging the last 200 yards to capture her second Class 3A title, one of the few dramatic finishes at the Maryland State Cross Country meets at Hereford High School.

For the fourth time, Westminster won the 4A boys title, and River Hill edged South Carroll by 12 points for the boys 3A title.

Gaithersburg's Marcus Hershberger was the day's biggest surprise after he swept by Westminster's pack of stars to swipe the boys 4A title.

South Carroll's Bobby Mead also notched second place in the boys 3A meet, although his team finished second to River Hill.

As expected, Walter Johnson's girls prevailed (63 points) to capture the girls 3A title over second place North Carroll (89 points).

The girls 3A title provided the day's much-anticipated matchup between North Carroll's Lawson and River Hill's McDuff.

McDuff, last year's 2A champion, faced Lawson for the first time this year since River Hill was bumped up to the 3A division.

Neck and neck throughout the race, McDuff pulled slightly ahead of Lawson with 400 yards to go. But Lawson broke McDuff 200 yards out in the last corner and bolted across the finish line at 19: 37.33 in time to see a depleted McDuff end her ordeal at 19: 51.85.

"McDuff's upset and maybe a little tired," Lawson said as McDuff collapsed after the race and required assistance from medical staff, coaches and her parents for the next 20 minutes. "I had never raced Lee, but I knew that we had the same styles, to go out fast and stay out there.

"I could see at the end that McDuff looked a little tight, but I just relaxed my breathing and went for it.

"The surge at the end actually made me run faster, so I guess I had a little more left."

Westminster's pack mentality paid off after its top four runners finished in the top 10. Jesse O'Connell and Josh Davis finished second and third, respectively, to lead their team's overwhelming victory (54 points) over second-place Severna Park (126 points).

Once O'Connell crossed the line at 16: 33.17, Davis (16: 34.94) surged the last 50 yards to edge Winston Churchill's Stephen Hayes (16: 36.66) by less than two seconds.

Teammates Kevin Pool and Tristan Gilbert secured the team victory by placing seventh and eighth.

"I can't think of a better way to cap off the season," O'Connell said.

"Winning the team title was our first goal. Having so many guys at the top definitely motivated each of us to push more.

"Josh [Davis] and I have worked the whole season together, but I guess at the end, I was able to step up and run a little faster for that last short distance."

Meanwhile, Gaithersburg's Hershberger credited improved preparation and visualization techniques for his stunning 4A victory.

The junior, who took up cross country after being sacked from soccer two years ago, expected to place fifth but fearlessly fielded the upset in 16: 28.94.

"This course really shows what you are made of," Hershberger said. "Practicing on this course a week ago really helped. But it was a mental thing, too. I had no pressure on me because I wasn't expected to win, so I wasn't nervous at all."

South Carroll's Mead, recuperating from chronic bronchitis this season, still managed to finish second (16: 28.55) behind River Hill's Michael Styczynski's record-setting time of 16: 22.47.

River Hill's Shane Stroup, Steve Chu and Michael Fleg also finished in the top 10 to secure their team's victory over South Carroll (76 points).

"I knew to start slow and was able to catch some guys when I surged in the maze around the 2-mile mark," Mead said. "But I could feel the congestion. The last two years, I've had problems stay- ing healthy, which has affected my results, including today. But Styczynski still ran a very smart race to win."

In Class 2A, Urbana (92) and Linganore (104) of Frederick County finished 1-2, as Scott Herrick of Frederick County won in 16: 41.

The Linganore girls (99) were third behind Middletown (24) and Catonsville (82).

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