River Hill boys, girls sweep Meade Classic

Arch. Spalding's Wetzel Hawks' Cunningham take top spots in depleted field

Cross country

High Schools

October 15, 2002|By Sam Atkinson | Sam Atkinson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The level of competition or the number of teams competing in the 11th Annual Meade Autumn Classic Cross Country Invitational might not have been up to par, but that didn't bother River Hill. The Hawks swept both the boys and girls meets yesterday at Blob's Park in Jessup.

The No. 5 River Hill boys placed their seven runners in the top 25 to accumulate 48 points for first place. McDonogh edged out Archbishop Spalding for second, 86 points to 88.

The Hawks finished first and third in the girls race to lead River Hill to 44 points, 22 points better then second-place Chesapeake.

Nine teams did not participate in the event due to precautions taken because of the recent sniper attacks in the Washington area. The meet, expected to have a 20-team field, was rescheduled from Friday.

Most notably missing were ranked boys teams from Archbishop Curley, Broadneck and Severna Park. The latter two also have ranked girls teams, including Broadneck at No. 1.

"I think Curley not being here and Severna Park not being here definitely weakened the field," said Archbishop Spalding coach Andy Wittee.

All-Metro runner J.J. Wetzel from Archbishop Spalding won his second straight invitational in two weeks as he finished the 3.25-mile course in 18 minutes, 13.15 seconds. Wetzel, last season's Anne Arundel County Boys Runner of the Year, won his county's invitational on Oct. 5 at Annapolis High School.

"It has been a pretty good season so far," Wetzel said. "It is a lot of pressure [to do well] but it is kind of fun being the man that people go after."

Wetzel made his move around the 1-mile mark along with McDonogh runner Tristram Thomas (18:29.52) as they tracked down South River's Steven Plummer (18:40.68) to take the lead.

"Tristram and I were able to close the gap a little bit on the sandy path and once we got into the woods I just pulled away on the hills," Wetzel said.

Wittee noted that the hills have been the turning point for Wetzel the entire season.

"J.J. was waiting for the hills," Wittee said. "He feels real strongly on the hills that he can take people on them, then blow by them after that. So far this season he has been right."

From there, the senior didn't let up against the sophomore from McDonogh as Wetzel flew up the final hill to the finish line.

"The goal for Tristram today was to try and run with him [Wetzel]. I think J.J. had a very good day," said McDonogh head coach Andy Gill.

River Hill's No. 1 runner, Alvin Yew (19:17.17), finished seventh to pace the Hawks, who carried out coach Earl Lauer's strategy.

"We ran for position," Lauer said. "I told the kids to go out a little bit slower and stay in a group. We are running reasonably well [right now]."

A pair of juniors carried the Hawks girls team to victory as Anne Cunningham (22:56.91) finished in first place. Long Reach's Jessica Reitz, who was close on Cunningham's heels throughout the race, finished three seconds off the pace. The Hawks' Clainda Yew (23:23.43) was third.

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