Thomas, Loyola top A Conference

McDonogh runner takes second consecutive title

St. Paul's earns B crown

MIAA cross country championships

High Schools

November 06, 2003|By Brendan Glaccum | Brendan Glaccum,SUN STAFF

McDonogh's Tristram Thomas looked over his shoulder with less than a mile to go in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship race and liked what he saw.

His nearest competitors, like his injury troubles, were well behind him. The defending champion, racing virtually pain-free for one of the few times this season, said he knew he had the race won.

Finishing in 16 minutes, 40 seconds, a time nearly identical to his winning time of a year ago, the runner some say could be the state's best took his second straight MIAA cross country title, defeating Calvert Hall's Mike Nasuta by 14 seconds yesterday at Oregon Ridge Park.

Thomas' victory led the Eagles to a team score of 97 points and second place in the A Conference behind No. 4-ranked Loyola, the pre-race favorite, which placed five runners in the top 26 and cruised to the conference title with 62 points.

Thomas, who was undefeated in dual-meet competition and won three invitationals this season, acknowledged feeling some pressure heading into the championship as the favorite.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself," Thomas said. "You want to do well. Everybody puts a lot of pressure on themselves. This is the league championship. This is the one that counts."

Calvert Hall, behind Nasuta and Dustin Bauer (third), took third place with 100 points, Archbishop Spalding was fourth and No. 9 Mount St. Joseph was fifth. Spalding and Mount St. Joe beat the Cardinals this season in dual meets.

"Mike's been trying to beat Tristram all year," Calvert Hall coach Adam Siripoonsup said. "He hasn't quite gotten him. He kind of came to the understanding he may not beat him, but he was going to beat everyone else."

Loyola completed a perfect season that included an 8-0 dual-meet record. The Dons were the consensus favorite to win yesterday and demonstrated exactly why with their depth.

Loyola coach Jose Albornoz said he wanted his team to start fast and finish three runners in the overall top 10. The Dons placed two in the top 10 - Chris Chaulk (fifth) and Dylan Hosford (seventh), but that was good enough to regain the A Conference title they had previously won in 2000. Steve O'Brien (13th), Matt Kaplan (19th) and Chris Souweine (26th) rounded out the Dons' top five.

"Because we didn't get a real chance to get a good race against [No. 3] Bel Air or [No. 1] River Hill, or any of the top teams, we wanted to make a statement today and run as strong as we could," Albornoz said. "We were deep all the way through eight runners this year. This is what we point to. This is our whole year."

Thomas, though his results this season were extraordinary, raced much of the time with an injured right thigh, an ailment that he said caused quite a bit of pain. Yesterday, he said he felt no pain.

The junior standout ran like it, taking a quick lead that he held for the duration of the 3.1-mile race. Thomas said his strategy was to start faster than usual, and he appeared then to get stronger, widening his lead after the midway point.

"It's been an up-and-down year," Thomas said. "All things considered, I think it turned out pretty well."

St. Paul's Kojo Kumah was the top B Conference finisher. Kumah finished 11th overall in 17:39, leading the Crusaders to the conference team title with 242 points. Clarke Saylor finished with the fifth-best conference time, and Brayden Cleary with the ninth-best conference time for the Crusaders, who finished ahead of defending champion Glenelg Country by 15 points.

Glenelg Country's Alex Owens finished with the second-best B Conference time - four seconds behind Kumah.

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