All-Anne Arundel County cross country

High Schools

November 21, 2001

Boys Runner of the Year

J.J. Wetzel, Archbishop Spalding: Nothing like learning from last season's All-Metro Runner of the Year to create some waves of your own. Last year, Wetzel absorbed what he could from running behind Dusty Lieb and put that learning to good use this season. The junior won three championships - the Georgetown Prep Classic (small schools race), the Anne Arundel Invitational (small schools race) and the St. John's Invitational. Wetzel placed second behind three-time Baltimore City/County Runner of the Year Chris Wright of Mount St. Joseph at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championships and was third at the Mid-Atlantic Private Schools championships. For the year, Wetzel finished no worse than fifth in eight major events. Wetzel, who increased his weekly mileage from 30 to 45 miles this past summer, said he hopes what he learned from Lieb is evident in him. "Everything he did, he trained hard," Wetzel said of his former teammate. "I'm trying to emulate him in as many ways as possible." This is Wetzel's second consecutive selection to the All-County team.

Boys Coach of the Year

Shawn Smith, St. Mary's: When Smith took over the Saints team in 1999, he admittedly had no idea what he was getting himself into. Smith, who helped his high school team in Pennsylvania win three conference championships as a runner and four more as a coach, was assuming a program that had finished last in the MIAA B Conference and hadn't reached the .500 level in years. But that didn't stop him from pledging to his charges that St. Mary's would bring home a conference title. Three seasons later, the Saints made that promise stand by avenging a regular-season loss to Glenelg Country and winning the conference. Smith, who gave the team a day off on the eve of the MIAA championships for the first time in his coaching career, may not be around to coach next season. As the director of training and franchise development for Ledo Pizza, Smith, who also coaches the girls team, may have to resign from one team or even both. If it comes down to leaving the coaching profession, Smith said he will enjoy the opportunity to go out in style. "It reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld," Smith said. "He had the top ratings, he had done all he could, and he dropped out. I know I've accomplished all my goals with the boys."

Boys team

Ryan Althaus, Broadneck: As the No. 2 runner for the Bruins, Althaus made gradual improvements during the season. The senior overcame less-than-stellar outings at the Bull Run and the Peter Geraghty Invitational and put forth some of his best performances in the latter half of the year. Althaus finished sixth at the county championships, 15th at the Lancer Invitational and 19th at the Class 4A East regional meet. He also was the top county finisher at the Meade Autumn Classic, placing ninth. Althaus is leaning toward running at either Mary Washington or UNC-Wilmington.

Chris Clarke, South River: Perhaps the most thrilling moment of a race is the all-out sprint toward the finish line, and Clarke provided his share of excitement this fall. Trailing Padraic Murray of Severna Park by about 25 yards on the final stretch of the county championships, Clarke, a senior, surged and slipped past Murray to capture second place in 16:54.7 - a personal best for the season. Clarke also placed seventh at the Anne Arundel Invitational in the large schools division and 13th at the Meade Autumn Classic. He is considering Georgia Tech and Rensselaer among his college options.

Brandon Davis, Chesapeake: No one made a bigger leap this fall than Davis. The sophomore, who finished 76th at last year's county championships, was seventh at the county event and 17th at the Class 4A East regional meet. A confident runner who enjoyed racing out to the front in the early goings, Davis placed 11th at the Bull Run (large schools), 12th at the Meade Autumn Classic and 14th at the Anne Arundel Invitational (large schools).

Mike Hall, Severna Park: Steady without the flash associated with many No. 1 runners, Hall embodied the yeoman-like spirit of a Falcons squad that captured its sixth county title in 12 seasons. Hall, a senior, won the county crown in 16:43.0, placed second in the large schools races at the Georgetown Prep Classic and the Anne Arundel Invitational, and finished sixth at the Class 3A East regional meet. Gregarious and friendly, Hall stood at the finish line at the county championship meet and personally congratulated every runner who ran past him.

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