Win­ning the opener

L-town sweeps quad-meet; West­lake’s Hall, GM’s Imhof take races

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

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.

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