South Carroll's Diven, Liberty finish on top of the Class 2A heap

Senior runner becomes school's first champion

Boys state cross country championships

High Schools

November 09, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

It was a day of firsts yesterday for South Carroll's Phil Diven and the Liberty boys cross country team.

Diven, a senior, became the school's first state cross country champion by winning the Class 2A individual crown at Hereford High's 3-mile course in Parkton.

And Liberty took home the program's first state title by capturing the 2A team championship on a day when other Baltimore-area teams came away empty-handed.

Diven's victory in 17 minutes, 22 seconds was somewhat surprising from a program that has produced such stellar runners as Steve McClearn, Bobby Mead, Matt Adami and Dan Reedy - none of whom claimed a state crown.

It's a surprising turn of events for a runner who had to walk part of a JV race as a freshman because he had gone out too fast at the start.

"If you had asked me two years ago, I would not have expected this at all," Diven said. "My freshman year, I did it just to do it. Since then, I've done it for fun and the competition."

Unlike that race three years ago, Diven began yesterday's race at a reasonable pace, comfortable in allowing Stephen Decatur junior Michael Evans to take the lead.

But about 1 1/4 miles into the race, Diven saw an opening when the two approached a hill.

"I run faster going downhill," Diven explained. "I saw an opportunity and took it, and I felt good enough to keep it up."

Diven did just that, and his 15-second margin over Evans was the second largest of the day among the boys races.

While Diven took individual honors, Liberty concentrated on the team title. The No. 10 Lions don't have a superstar, but have relied on a steady pack of runners to win the West region, place second at the Carroll County championships and produce two third-place showings.

Yesterday, only 27 seconds separated Liberty's top five runners, who accumulated 106 points.

"Any day, any one of us could be the No. 1 runner on this team," said junior Carl Henn, who finished 12th in 18:09. "And we're fine with that. We help motivate each other."

Lions coach Dan Jones said the team never lost sight of grabbing a state crown even as it slipped at the county and Monocacy Valley Athletic League championships.

"We love to do well at counties and at the conference meet," he said. "But I'll take seconds at those and a first here any day."

Performances from sophomore Jim Ridder (24th, 18:27), junior Bryan Mull (25th, 18:27), senior Chris Devilbiss (31st, 18:35) and senior Pete Lester (32nd, 18:36) helped Liberty ease past runner-up Atholton, which collected 126 points.

Top-ranked River Hill was the closest to adding another title for the metro area, but the Hawks could not overtake Urbana, which posted 107 points to River Hill's 112 in the 3A division.

Still, Hawks coach Earl Lauer said he wasn't too discouraged because he will lose just two runners among his top 20 to graduation.

"I think for as young as our squad is, they ran pretty well," he said. "Winning today would've been certainly a real plus, but I think just looking at what's in the developmental line for the next two years, it will be real exciting."

Urbana senior Kurt Kuehne won his second straight state championship in 16:47. Northeast senior Klayton Lipman was second in 16:50, and Annapolis junior Will Eden was third in 16:55.

Old Mill senior Larry Contrella capped his first foray into cross country by placing fourth in 17:01 in the 4A race. No. 6 Westminster was the highest local team in sixth place with 167 points - 89 points behind Sherwood, which picked up its first state crown since 1979.

Oakland Mills fell short in its attempt for the program's fourth 1A title in five seasons as the Scorpions put up 85 points compared to Beall's 48.

Juniors Mahmoud Abouelrous (18:23) and Josh Tippetts (18:24) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, for Oakland Mills.

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