Running in the sun
NP picks up wins at home cross country meet; Nueslein third in girls
The temperature was a bit on the warm side, but it did little to slow down Molly Barrick and her Northern High School cross country teammates in the team’s first Southern Maryland Athletic Conference meet of the year on Wednesday afternoon at North Point.
Barrick led a group of three Patriots in the top four as Northern stormed out to strong start to the conference schedule in a meet that also included Calvert and La Plata in addition to the host Eagles.
“It felt pretty good. It’s really hot,” Barrick said after finishing the race in 19 minutes 39.67 seconds. “It was actually a pretty tough race, but it felt good to get a race in. I was happy with my place, but my time I was a little mad about. But it felt good for the weather.”
Joining Barrick’s first-place effort in the top four for Northern were Abbey Sweeney, who finished second in 19:45.51, and Claudia Dolan (fourth, 20:22.25). North Point’s Rachel Nueslein was third (19:52.95), while Calvert’s Sydney Friedel was fifth (20:37.28).
Rounding out the top 10 were North Point’s Mya Rivenburg (sixth), Calvert’s Lauren Miller (seventh), Northern’s Kaitlyn Delamer (eighth), Calvert’s Kayla Brennan (ninth) and Northern’s Alicia Bennett (10th).
Northern’s girls (3-0 overall) earned three wins on the day, defeating Calvert 20-37, North Point 20-39 and La Plata 15-50. Calvert (2-1) picked up a pair of victories, topping La Plata 15-49 and North Point 26-31, while North Point (1-2) defeated La Plata (0-3), 16-44.
With a talented, experienced group of runners, the expectations for Northern’s girls are big. And while the goals the Patriots have set cannot be reached until much later in the fall, their eyes are all focused on what they want to accomplish.
“We’ve been training really hard and we’re looking towards states, training towards states,” Barrick said. “Everything we do during the week is training towards the end of the season, SMAC, regionals and states. We’re just focusing on our main goal.”
On the boys side, Northern’s Charlie Sweeney crossed the finish line first in 16:31.81. But while a Northern runner won individually, Calvert boasted seven of the top 14 runners overall in defeating newly minted rival Northern, as well as La Plata and North Point.
Calvert (3-0) defeated La Plata 16-48, North Point 15-48 and Northern 24-34. Northern (2-1) earned wins over La Plata (1940) and North Point (18-41), while the Eagles (1-2) nipped La Plata (0-3), 26-33.
“The team performed really well today. I think we had seven runners in the top , so that was really good,” said Calvert’s Justin Diehl, who finished second in 16:57.19. “Personally, I didn’t have my best race, just wasn’t feeling it, but I’m really proud of how the team performed today.
“I’m definitely feeling pretty good right now. We’re going to start doing some harder workouts, get into better shape. But right now it’s just a building process to get into that better shape towards states and hopefully a state championship for the team.”
Calvert also received top10 showings from John Dodsworth (fourth, 17:22.91), Ben Aris (fifth, 18:12.83), Liam Aris (sixth) and Isaiah Willett (eighth). La Plata was paced by Gage White, who finished seventh, while North Point’s Daniel Walsh led the Eagles with a ninth-place effort.
In addition to Sweeney’s firstplace showing, Greg Oldham finished in third for the Patriots (17:16.45), while Reece Lohr took 10th.
Sweeney was relatively pleased with his day, as well as what the Northern team has shown leading into the meet on Wednesday.
“I thought I ran well,” he said. “he plan was to kind of stick it out for the first two miles and see what I had left at mile two. That’s what I did. It was really hot, but I felt good, my legs felt fine. When I got to two miles I put like a minute surge in and just pushed all the way in.”
Having lost some key seniors from last year’s team, including Class 3A state champion Matt Bennett, it might have been expected that this year would be a down one for the Patriots. But Sweeney felt optimistic that the group will remain competitive.
“Personally I think the season is starting really well,” he said. “I’m still building up mileage, so when I peak and taper later I think it will turn out well. Teamwise, I didn’t think we were going to be too good this year, but our 4,5, 6, 7 runners are all starting to really pick it up, and we have a freshman running on varsity who is really starting to motivate the upperclassmen. I think people are going to sleep on us this year and I think we can surprise some people.”
North Point head coach Jimmy Ball had similar feelings regarding his team, which is challenged by some youth and relatively low numbers.
“We have a lot of young guys and this is their first conference meet. You have the heat, I think they did as well as they could do,” Ball said. “Hopefully by a month from now we can compete for a title. On the girls side we’re low on numbers, but the girls come out every day and work hard. And Rachel’s going to be their at the end. I’m excited for where we’re going to be.”
North Point’s Rachel Nueslein runs during the latter stages of the girls cross country race at Wednesday afternoon’s quad-meet at North Point. Nueslein finished third in the girls race in a time of 19 minutes 52.95 seconds in a meet that also included the teams from Calvert, La Plata and Northern.