Bryn Mawr cruises to championship

Kagwima leads Mawrtians to second straight A title

Cross country

October 31, 2002|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Bryn Mawr set a few goals for itself heading into the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland cross county championship meet.

The fourth-ranked Mawrtians first wanted to win a second straight A Division title. Then they wanted to gain some respect while doing it. By the end of yesterday's meet at Oregon Ridge, it was mission accomplished on both fronts as Bryn Mawr easily defeated No. 9 Mercy and No. 6 Maryvale.

Paced by winner Nyam Kagwima, the Mawrtians placed four runners in the top seven and breezed to the championship with 31 points. Bryn Mawr finished far ahead of runner-up Mercy (86) and Maryvale (94). Kagwima became the IAAM's first three-time individual winner and exacted a measure of revenge on defending champion Glenna Sullivan from Maryvale, who finished fourth. Sullivan edged out Kagwima in last year's race.

"She did a great job given the conditions," Bryn Mawr coach Jason George said. "She was just super. I think she wanted the team to win, but she also wanted to win herself."

Kagwima took command near the 1 1/2 -mile mark on a cold and rainy afternoon that left the course filled with puddles of mud. The senior won in a time of 19 minutes, 23 seconds, topping Maryvale's Kelly Sullivan [Glenna's twin] by 10 seconds.

"It wasn't that hard," Kagwima said of the conditions while wrapped in a blanket after the race. "You just had to be mindful of the terrain." Kagwima had stepped up her training this year and worked hard at staying away from the injuries that slowed her toward the end of last season. She used orthotics in her shoes for more support, which played a big role in keeping her at her peak.

"I made sure I wasn't going to be hurt," Kagwima said.

The Mawrtians hurt the rest of the field with their solid running. Laura Drossner (third), Ashley Campbell (fifth), Ellett George (seventh) and Laura Paulsen (15th) all ran strongly in the poor conditions. The Mawrtians felt they had been overlooked in recent weeks and not given the respect they deserve for their accomplishments.

That's why the big victory made the Mawrtians so happy after the race, because it gave them their third division championship in four years.

"We went out there and we wanted to show everyone what we had," Campbell said. "We recognized that we had one of the most talented teams that Bryn Mawr's had."

George said his team wanted to show everyone in the state how good they could be - especially running against tough competition like Mercy and Maryvale.

"They wanted to make a statement that we're one of the top teams in the state," George said. "I'd say we made [that] in a big way."

Maryvale matched the Mawrtians at first, with the Sullivan sisters taking second and fourth, but Mercy used top-10 finishes from Kaitlin Gass (eighth) and Jamie Antonious (ninth) plus Mary Colleen Buettner's 11th-place effort to edge out Maryvale.

The B Division runners competed at the same time to make for one race overall, and Seton Keough's Kerry Shea took first place in 20:43, beating out Laura Holtrop of Chapelgate by 11 seconds. However, the team championship finish proved much closer.

St. John's of Prospect Hall edged out Seton Keough in a tiebreaker after the teams finished with 60 points. The finishes of a team's first five runners give a school its overall score. If two teams are tied, then the finish of the sixth-place runner becomes the tiebreaker, and Joanna Hawley of St. John's (33rd) edged out Seton Keough's Jen Sacker (36th), giving the Frederick school its first championship.

"It was an incredible meet, and they did an incredible job," St. John's coach Scott Rippeon said. Kenan Cole (fourth) and Sarah Bidinger (sixth) were the team's top-10 finishers.

In addition to Shea, Juliana Fernandes (seventh) and Christy Martin (10th) gave Seton Keough top-10 finishes.

"I'm ecstatic," Seton Keough coach Jim Lancaster said. "We've closed the gap on [St. John's]. We just haven't closed it enough."

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