All-metro Cross Country

December 11, 2008

BOYS RUNNER OF THE YEAR

Graham Bazell

Atholton

How hard does Bazell drive himself? Take a look at what happened in the moments after he won the Class 3A state title race at Hereford last month.

Instead of celebrating yet another dominant victory and the fact that he won a state title, the senior was sitting on a bench, his head in his hands, upset with himself because he felt that he could have done better.

Bazell has been one of the area's top runners for the past few years, and everything came together for him this season. He combined

with teammate Michael Lynch and others to give the Raiders the Class 3A state title.

Bazell set the course record at Hereford - which has been ranked as one of the nation's toughest places to run - in the Bull Run en route to an easy victory in 15 minutes, 51 seconds.

Bazell turned in strong performances to help Atholton surprise Mount Hebron and take the Howard County title and regional championship before winning the state crown.

BOYS FIRST TEAM

Sean Kirby

River Hill

The senior had been somewhat overshadowed by other Howard County runners in the past, but he emerged as one of the Hawks' key runners this season. This was his best season, as he played a big role in River Hill's success. The combination of Kirby and Craig Morgan helped the Hawks finish second in the Class 2A South regional and state meets. They also took fourth in the Howard County meet. Kirby finished second behind Morgan in the regional and state competitions.

Michael Lynch

Atholton

Graham Bazell played a big role in Atholton's winning the Class 3A state title, but the Raiders wouldn't have finished first without Lynch. The sophomore's strong work in the postseason races pushed Atholton over the top, especially at the state meet, where it edged Bel Air by five points.

Lynch finished second behind Bazell in the Howard County, regional and state meets. That 1-2 combination pushed the Raiders to a win over Mount Hebron in the county race and allowed them to hold off Bel Air. Lynch should be the top runner at Atholton next year.

Craig Morgan

River Hill

Morgan has flown under the radar a bit during his River Hill career, but there's no mistaking how good he has become over the past few years.

Morgan flourished this fall, helping River Hill to a second-place finish in the Class 2A South regional and state meets. The senior won both races, which played a big role in the Hawks' getting second each time. Morgan finished third at the Howard County championship.

Demetrios Pagonis

McDonogh

Pagonis came up big this year, losing just once in the regular season and pulling out an impressive victory in the Spiked Shoe Invitational in September. The senior also ran well at the Bull Run (seventh in the small schools division) before taking fourth in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship meet. Pagonis concluded things with a third place finish (senior boys) at the Foot Locker regionals.

J.R. Spencer

Archbishop Spalding

Teammate Zach Sullivan got much of the notice at Spalding this season, but Spencer played a big role for the Cavaliers. Spencer, Sullivan and Ryan Topita gave Spalding a good run in each race and helped the Cavaliers stay in contention.

His best race might have been at the MIAA championship, where he finished third. He was just five seconds behind runner-up Chris Swisko from Calvert Hall. That helped Spalding take second place. The senior finished seventh in the state private schools meet three days later.

Zach Sullivan

Archbishop Spalding

The senior was consistent throughout the season. Sullivan repeated as the MIAA A Conference champion and followed that up with a 30-second victory over DeMatha's Corey Puffett at the state private schools championship meet.

Before that, Sullivan scored a strong victory at the Knights Invitational in late September - breaking former Broadneck standout Matt Centrowitz's meet record. He followed that with a victory at the Run From the Lions' Den at Liberty. Sullivan set the tone for a good Spalding team to have a strong season.

Chris Swisko

Calvert Hall

The senior led the way for Calvert Hall this season, as the Cardinals again captured the MIAA A Conference title. Swisko was always near or in the top five, setting the pace for a strong pack of Calvert Hall runners.

The Cardinals needed the consistent performances from Swisko because they lost good runners from last year's championship team. Swisko finished second in this year's MIAA A Conference title run. He also ran well at the Barnhart Invitational (sixth) and the Run From the Lions' Den (sixth).

Zach Weinstein

Mount Hebron

The senior was in front of the Mount Hebron pack, as the team finished second in Howard County and then won the regional and Class 2A state championships in impressive fashion.

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