Winning the opener
L-town sweeps quad-meet; Westlake’s Hall, GM’s Imhof take races
When the quartet of Southern Maryland Athletic Conference cross country teams took to the course at Westlake High School on Wednesday afternoon, both the eventual top female and male runners realized they had something to defend.
In the boys event that went first, Westlake junior Jay Hall began his quest for a potential SMAC title by traveling his home course in 15 minutes, 55.13 seconds to finish nearly a minute ahead of Leonardtown’s Parker McDowell (16:49.69). The Raiders’ Paul Fagnano (17:17.02) edged Jett Hall (17:17.30) for third.
Jay Hall had opened the season by taking the Brunswick Invitational and then came back to finish second in last weekend’s event at the Fair Hill Training Center in Cecil County, a course accustomed to equine competitors. Back on his home course on Wednesday, Hall traveled the considerably flatter terrain with far less difficulty.
“It’s always great to start off the season with a win on your home course,” Hall said. “I’m familiar with everything here. It was a lot hotter today than it was at practice the last two days, but there are some shady spots in the woods where you can stay cool. I was hoping to go 15 something today, maybe 15:30. But the last part of it was a little tough.”
Leonardtown’s boys (30) swept the competition, which included Great Mills and Thomas Stone. The Raiders defeated the Hornets 20-39, Stone 15-50 and Westlake 23-38. Great Mills (2-1) downed the Wolverines (25-35) and the Cougars (15-49). Westlake (1-2) picked up a win over Stone (0-3), 19-41.
While Hall is looking to join the upper echelon in the SMAC cross
country circuit and perhaps become the heir to the throne that Northern High School graduate Matt Bennett vacated, Great Mills senior Annie Inhof began the season on Wednesday as the reigning state champion. She toured the course in 19:18.79, finishing about 50 seconds ahead of Leonardtown senior Liana Foianini (20:08.74).
“I have high goals for myself again this year and, of course, I want to win states again,” said Imhof, who is considering the U.S. Naval Academy or the U.S. Air Force Academy next fall. “It was great to see those other girls out there. Liana is really good and she’s always pushing me. Her times have really dropped since her first year.”
Like Imhof, Foianini also competes for her school during the indoor track and field and outdoor track and field seasons and Wednesday afternoon she delivered a good performance while downplaying her role as chasing Imhof home to a second-place finish.
“I don’t know if it was chasing,” Foianini said. “It was more like trying not to die. She’s really fast and after the first mile I knew I couldn’t keep up. But I felt good the first mile, mile and a half. The last part of it was tougher. It was hot and humid today. There were some spots in the woods where you could cool off, but it was still really warm.”
Imhof won individual title but Foianini’s Raiders (30) earned bragging rights with a sweep on Wednesday, taking down the Hornets 23-38 as well as picking up 15-50 wins over Stone and Westlake. Great Mills (2-1) grabbed victories versus the Cougars (16-45) and Wolverines (1550). Stone (1-2) knocked off Westlake, 15-50.
Imhof and teammate Anna Staats were first and fourth, respectively, while Leonardtown runners occupied the other eight spots in the top 10.
Westlake High School junior Jett Hall and Leonardtown’s Paul Fagnano race side by side through the narrow straightaway at Westlake on Wednesday. Fagnano edged Hall by less than three-tenths of a second to finish third in the event.