Win­ters Mill girls and Lib­erty boys win ti­tles

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Me­gan Wood­ward

Emma Kar­talia hardly could con­tain her ex­cite­ment.

The Win­ters Mill se­nior took first place at the Car­roll County cross coun­try cham­pi­onship meet at McDaniel on Thurs­day, fin­ish­ing in 20 min­utes, 3 sec­onds, and car­ried the Fal­cons girls to their first county ti­tle in pro­gram his­tory.

“It’s re­ally fan­tas­tic,” Kar­talia said. “When I got on this team, we were not very good. We were a very happy team, a very lov­ing team, but not very tal­ented, and to work this hard and to be lead­ing this team in my se­nior year that’s win­ning and do­ing re­ally well is a fan­tas­tic feel­ing. I love it.”

Cen­tury’s Natalie Poul­ton fin­ished sec­ond (20:19), and South Car­roll’s Jamie An­der­son (21:04) and Sydney Ruckel (21:09) took third and fourth. Win­ters Mill’s De­laney Ge­or­giana and Casey Jill­son tied for fifth in 21:14.

West­min­ster’s Jil­lian Wag­ner (21:28) and Erin McGrath (21:34) were sev­enth and eighth, and Cen­tury’s Avery Arena (21:37) was ninth. Caro­line Wil­cox was the last of the Fal­cons’ top-10 fin­ish­ers.

“I think you re­al­ize, and some­thing for me that I learned, is that with cross coun­try, ev­ery per­son mat­ters,” Wil­cox said.

Cen­tury had 54 points to Win­ters Mill’s 39. South Car­roll, led by An­der­son and Ruckel, placed third with a to­tal of 64 points.

This is coach Ben Brown’s first ti­tle since he took over the Fal­cons pro­gram in 2012. Kar­talia’s vic­tory was her first in a county meet in her ca­reer.

“Our big­gest thing is try­ing to keep that pack of one to five as close as pos­si­ble,” Brown said. “We’ve worked on keep­ing those times in ev­ery sin­gle meet and Emma Kar­talia of Win­ters Mill ap­proaches the fin­ish line to win the Car­roll County cross coun­try ti­tle. “It’s re­ally fan­tas­tic,” Kar­talia said. “When I got on this team, we were not very good.” shrink­ing them just a lit­tle big to try and close it up. We have a lot of new run­ners that are learn­ing how to run, so we were work­ing to peak right at this time head­ing into re­gions, and states as well.”

Wil­cox never con­sid­ered run­ning cross coun­try un­til this sum­mer. She nor­mally played field hockey in the fall, and is com­mit­ted to play lacrosse at Jack­sonville. Wil­cox said she al­ways en­joyed run­ning for fun, and her de­ci­sion to run in­door track added to her love for dis­tance runs.

Kar­talia and Wil­cox soon be­came close friends. The two trained to­gether dur­ing the sum­mer, even if it meant wak­ing up at 7 a.m. to get the ex­tra mileage in.

“It’s the best de­ci­sion I made, and I’ve had a blast,” Wil­cox said. “I en­joy run­ning, and it’s some­thing that makes me so happy, and I’m glad I did it.”

“Hav­ing a train­ing part­ner with you in ev­ery work­out ev­ery step of ev­ery mile is so in­spir­ing,” said Kar­talia, em­brac­ing Wil­cox. “I don’t even know how to de­scribe it. It’s such a good feel­ing, and I haven’t had that ev­ery year here, so it’s re­ally spe­cial.”

In the boys race, Nick Til­son an­tic­i­pated the hills on McDaniel’s golf course. He saved his en­ergy for when it mat­tered most.

The Lib­erty se­nior crossed the fin­ish line first in 16:35, lead­ing the Lions to their third county ti­tle in four years.

“The Cen­tury kids went out pretty quick, and that was their game plan,” Til­son said. “The first mile isn’t fast, but it’s not slow; it’s prob­a­bly the eas­i­est mile on this course. I per­son­ally wanted to go out a lit­tle slower to make sure I had enough at the end for the hilly part.”

Three other Lib­erty run­ners fin­ished in the top 10: Daniel Saxon (sec­ond), John Le­mas­ter (third) and An­drew Miner (sev­enth). Cen­tury had three run­ners in the top 10 and fin­ished sec­ond with 54 points, be­hind Lib­erty’s 27. West­min­ster, the 2015 county cham­pion, fin­ished third with 75.

Manch­ester Val­ley was dis­qual­i­fied from in­di­vid­ual and team scor­ing for rac­ing an ex­tra run­ner.

De­spite an over­cast, rainy af­ter­noon, the weather didn’t fac­tor into the Lions’ per­for­mance. Til­son and his team­mates were pre­pared for this meet, the first of the cham­pi­onship sea­son, and were ea­ger to see their hard work pay off.

“We have me, Dan Saxon and An­drew Miner, who were all on the var­sity team last year, and that ex­pe­ri­ence helps a lot just brin­ing the younger guys in and em­pha­siz­ing that this is where it re­ally mat­ters at the end of the year,” Til­son said. “The train­ing runs at prac­tice and in­clud­ing all the guys with us re­ally helps our team chem­istry.”

DY­LAN SLAGLE/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

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