Eagles capture UCBAC cross country crown
— It may not have been as dominant as their performance one week prior, but Tuesday ended in a Bohemia Manor team title all the same.
Junior Grant Franceschina captured second place and three of his teammates finished inside the Top 6 as the Eagles romped to 44 points and a lopsided 43-point victory over runner-up North Harford in the boys’ race at the UCBAC Cross Country Championships at Fair Hill.
The win came just seven days after Bo Manor placed four runners in the Top 5 to secure a victory at the Cecil County Invitational. The program also captured first at the Chesapeake Division meet earlier in the month to sweep the conference’s three major October tournaments.
“This is the hardest race of the year, for sure, for us to win. I think there’s only one school smaller than us in the conference and that’s Havre de Grace, so to be one of the smaller schools and be able to put a team out there against schools literally twice our size is an
impressive achievement for these kids,” Eagles coach Steve Pizzulli said. “They worked very hard.”
Franceschina crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 52.83 seconds, while sophomore Alex Longeway (17:02.35) and sophomore Zachary Laird (17:04.59) followed him to capture second, third and fourth place for Bo Manor. Senior Jack Franceschina (17:14.34) then placed sixth and freshman Colin Park (18:30.44) came in 29th place to round out the Eagles’ scores.
Bel Air’s Kieran McDermott captured first place, finishing roughly 17 seconds ahead of Grant Franceschina. It was a similar result to the Chesapeake Division Meet, when the pair also finished 1-2.
“I was just trying everything to beat Kieran. I had been real close to him at the Chesapeake Division Meet. The whole race was just sticking with him and I didn’t want to fall too far back. I wanted to maintain distance,” Grant Franceschina said. “This race has always been my toughest race, I don’t normally run well at UCBACs. I feel like this is the moment of the season where it’s the hardest.”
The Eagles now hope to take their momentum into the postseason where they hope to win a secondstraight 1A North Region title and challenge for their first state team crown since 2011.
“We’re looking for that state title and right now it seems like that’s all up to our fifth man [and] keeping them encouraged. We don’t have a definitive fifth person so it’s all about keeping them motivated and improving.”
Tigers place fourth
On the girls’ side, Rising Sun produced Cecil County’s top runner and team score.
Senior Arianna Wheeler placed eighth in a time of 21:21.51 as the Tigers ended in fourth place with 113 points, 26 points behind third-place Patterson Mill.
Her sister, Emma, placed 11th in a time of 21:22.89, while Bo Manor’s Elle Meyer (21:22.42) finished 10th.
It marked a secondstraight Top 10 finish for Arianna Wheeler in as many weeks after she captured first at the Cecil County Invitational.
“She came out today hungry and with that 500 meters to go, she really took off. She wanted it and she got it,” Rising Sun coach Jim Burkhardt said of his top runner on Tuesday.
While a fourth-place finish isn’t where Burkhardt envisioned the Tigers finishing on Tuesday, he noted that the team can make up for it with strong performances at the 2A East Region and 2A State meets next month.
“All of my team was sluggish today. We did not finish where I thought we would but in the end it’s for next week and hopefully we can rebound and finish must faster than what we did today,” Burkhardt said. “Basically, it’s a coaches job to progress them to the point where their best time is [at the end of the year], so you don’t want to peak them too early. Training has been based on that and so far they have been progressing very nicely and we’re almost to that point. I’m hoping regions is where we put the best time down.”
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Bohemia Manor sophomore Alex Longeway, pictured, was one of three Bohemia Manor runners to finish in the Top 5 as the Eagles romped to the UCBAC Cross Country crown at Fair Hill on Tuesday.