Liberty, Westminster win Lions' Den titles

Depth pays for host boys

course error costs 2 girls, but Owls' Repsher second

Cross country

High Schools

October 09, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The races in yesterday's first Run From The Lions' Den turned out to be as unusual as the invitational's name.

In the boys race, South Carroll's Phil Diven and Francis Scott Key's Steven Staub ran stride for stride for nearly the entire five-kilometer race, rarely more than a few feet apart.

But Diven pulled away in the final 200 yards to win the individual title in a race in which No. 6 Liberty's best finisher was seventh -- yet the host Lions still took the team championship.

The girls race had an even stranger outcome. Westminster's Trish Repsher and Franklin's Michelle Donadio were in front by a comfortable margin at about the two-mile mark before both took a wrong turn, letting South Carroll's Lindsay Warfield slide into first.

Warfield hung on to win the race. Repsher still finished second, but Donadio slipped to sixth place. Westminster easily won the team championship.

In the boys competition, Staub's strategy was simple -- to stick with Diven as long as possible.

"That was my goal," Staub said. "That's all I wanted to do." Diven couldn't shake the Francis Scott Key junior until bursting ahead coming off the hill on the final turn about 200 yards from the finish.

The South Carroll senior used the speed he's shown while running the 800 meters in track to sprint to the finish in a time of 17 minutes, 31 seconds. Staub took second in 17:42.

"I tried to pick it up a bit at the bottom of the hill," Diven said. "I was able to pull away, [but] I liked the [challenge]."

In the end, no one could challenge the deep Liberty team. The Lions' top finisher was Carl Henn in seventh place (18:09) -- but Liberty also put runners in eighth, ninth, 11th and 12th to finish with 47 points, edge Westminster (56) and easily beat No. 8 Francis Scott Key (third place, 109).

Frank Sisolak was eighth, Steven Mullens ninth, Jim Ridder 11th and Bryan Mull 12th for the Lions.

"My guys are interchangeable," Liberty coach Dan Jones said. "They move up and down as a team. We could lose one or two guys, and we have JV guys who are almost right there to fill the gaps."

Westminster tried to fill the gaps but came up short. Dan Simmons, Peter McKibben and Tommy Leuking finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the race, but the Owls didn't land anyone else in the top 20.

Francis Scott Key had a surprisingly tough day. Staub was the lone Eagle to finish in the top 14, and Key put only three runners in the top 20 and faded to third place overall.

The girls competition wasn't nearly as close as Westminster (37 points) breezed to the victory over Winters Mill (68) and Century (82). In addition to Repsher, Lindsay Southworth (fourth), Caitlyn Pyle (eighth), Stephanie Martz (11th) and Ally Waranowski (12th) turned in strong efforts for the Owls.

But the story of the race eventually became the wrong turn, and how the opportunistic Warfield finished strongly to win her first race in 21:31.

Jones, who also served as meet director, said Repsher and Donadio made the wrong turn around the two-mile mark and ran about 200 yards out of their way. They got back on track a few moments later, and Jones said officials saw no reason to disqualify them.

"They caught their mistake, and they were disadvantaged, so there was no reason to disqualify them," Jones said. "It happens sometimes."

Warfield wasn't exactly sure what happened at first but knew something was wrong.

"People kept [yelling] that, `You're in first,' " Warfield said. "I just kept going. They took a wrong turn and I just took off."

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