Four-school meet spiced at end by pair of winners with kick

Hebron's McCarthy upsets 1A state girls champion

River Hill's Stroup rules

Cross country

October 18, 2001|By Rick Belz | By Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Eight days before the Howard County cross country championships, some of the top runners had a chance to size up their competition at River Hill yesterday.

They appeared to hold nothing back during the 3.1-mile races. Mount Hebron's Melissa McCarthy and River Hill's Shane Stroup produced powerful finishing kicks to win their divisions during a four-team meet.

In the girls race, McCarthy (20 minutes, 9.48 seconds) set the stage for a suspenseful county championship race by upsetting Gleneg's Class 1A state champion, Carrie Selmer (20:09.77), who misread the finish and veered slightly off course in the stretch.

In the boys race, Stroup (16:03) shifted into high gear and pulled away from Mount Hebron's Matt Sanders in the last 100 yards, after Sanders (16:04), forced to set the pace, had led most of the race. The winning time was six seconds off Stroup's course record.

The meet was scored as a double-dual, with the River Hill boys nipping Mount Hebron, 27-28, in the closest competition. The Hawks boys also defeated Glenelg, 21-34, and Wilde Lake, 18-45. Mount Hebron defeated Wilde Lake, 18-45, and Glenelg, 8-13. Glenelg defeated Wilde Lake, 23-34.

Mount Hebron's girls swept all three opponents easily, while Glenelg defeated River Hill and Wilde Lake by comfortable margins.

McCarthy, the North Carolina-bound team captain of the state champion Vikings lacrosse squad, opted for cross country this season instead of soccer to avoid injuries, and the move now has her challenging Selmer for a county championship.

In just her fourth race, McCarthy tucked in behind Selmer for most of the predominantly flat course, using Selmer to break a stiff wind. McCarthy's kick created a stirring finish as Selmer struggled to catch her.

"I'm not a cross country runner, so I just did what I was told to do," said McCarthy, who lost to Selmer by 20 seconds in an earlier quad meet. "I wasn't confident, and I've never gotten this nervous playing lacrosse. But I don't like to lose."

Running shoulder-to-shoulder, both girls started to kick coming down a hill behind the tennis courts.

"All I could hear was the pitter-patter of her spikes, and I thought she had me, because a line in the newspaper about her killer kick kept gnawing at me. So when she took a wider turn, I told myself that `this is it, I've got to go,' " McCarthy said. ""I tried to keep my mind free and let my body do the work."

Selmer said: "This didn't shake my confidence. I'm glad I found out today that she has a kick. This gets me more excited for next week."

Sanders said that his goal in yesterday's meet was to see Stroup's kick before the county championships.

"I learned how far I have to be in front," he said.

Stroup's only loss this season was to Pat Bailey of C. Milton Wright at the Bull Run.

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