Lead­ing the county

West­lake’s Hall takes sec­ond in boys, North Point’s Nueslein 5th in girls at SMAC cross coun­try meet

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @cfh­philly

Head­ing into Wednes- day af­ter­noon’s South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cross coun­try cham­pi­onships at Chap­tico Park, Calvert’s Justin Diehl for­mu­lated a plan.

The sophomore made good on it, get­ting out in front of the pack early and ul­ti­mately fin­ish­ing the course in a blis­ter­ing 16 min­utes 10.99 sec­onds.

“It was a good run,” he said shortly af­ter win­ning the boys race, “I re­ally wanted to try to take over at about a mile, which I did. My plan was suc- cess­ful, but I’m not sure if our team got first or sec- ond. The goal was to beat Leonard­town.”

Diehl’s team fell a tad short of that sec­ond goal, as Leonard­town placed its top five run­ners in a tight group be­tween eighth and 14th place to win the con­fer­ence’s team cham- pi­o­nship. Leonard­town fin­ished with 51 points, nip­ping the 57 ac­cu­mu­lated by Calvert’s boys. North­ern was third with 90.

On the girls side, North­ern placed its top five run­ners within the top 11 to win the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship in com­fort- able fash­ion. Run­ner-up to the Pa­tri­ots’ 32 points were the girls from Leoan­rd­town, who scored 64. Great Mills was third with 83.

Win­ning the girls race was Patux­ent’s Hay­ley Jack­son. The two-time Class 2A state cham­pion con­tin­ued her stel­lar ca- reer with a win­ning run of 18:31.86. North­ern’s Molly Bar­rick fin­ished sec­ond (19:09.34), while Great Mills’ An­nie Imhof was third (19:28.11).

“The race was ac­tu­ally pretty chal­leng­ing,” Jack- son said. “It was fun, but it was still chal­leng­ing be­cause you had all those girls. I knew Molly was be­hind me. You can hear stuff in the back­ground, hear peo­ple cheer­ing and stuff. It was ex­cit­ing, but I was also ner­vous at the same time. Just hav­ing peo­ple be­hind me real- ly did push me, and the weather was nice.”

Head­ing to­wards her fi- nal two high school cross coun­try meets, the Patux- ent se­nior was anx­ious to see how things un­fold.

“Re­gion­als I’m re­ally ex­cited to see what hap­pens,” Jack­son said. “I re­ally want to go [to states] as a team. Patux­ent doesn’t have the big­gest team, so it’s re­ally im­por­tant that the whole team gets to­gether and race our hearts out so we can all make it to states. That’s re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant for me and I know the girls want to go to states. That was our goal this year, to make it to states to­gether. Go­ing to states to­gether is just so much more fun than go­ing alone. It would be amaz­ing for us. ... Look­ing for that third [state] ti­tle. The 2A got re­ally com­pet­i­tive with some of the girls, but it’s go­ing to be ex­cit­ing. I can’t wait for it.”

While Jack­son topped the list of girls fin­ish­ers, Bar­rick led a strong North­ern show­ing to earn the Pa­tri­ots the team cham­pi­onship plaque. Fol­low­ing Bar­rick for North­ern, Abby Sweeney fin­ished fourth, Clau­dia Dolan was sev­enth, Sar- ah Deresky was eighth and Kait­lyn De­lamer was 11th.

“The SMAC ti­tle is al- ways nice to have. The girls def­i­nitely earned ev­ery­thing they’ve won this sea­son. They’re a hard-work­ing group of girls that make it easy to coach,” said North­ern head coach Josh Daw- son, who has his eyes set on the re­gional and state cham­pi­onships com­ing up in the next two weeks. “We train for tough cour­ses, but our state course [at Here­ford High School] is what mat- ters and that’s one of the tough­est there is. Lucky for us, our con­fer­ence and re­gional cour­ses are equally as tough. I think it’s our strong suit, so now we start re­lax­ing the long runs and up the speed stuff and see how much faster and how much fresher we can be for states.”

Round­ing out the girls top 10, North Point’s Ra- chel Nueslein fin­ished fifth, Leonard­town’s Li- ana Foian­ini was sixth, Calvert’s Syd­ney Friedel was ninth and Emily Im- hof of Great Mills was 10th.

Leonard­town’s con­sis- tency in the boys race was too much for any of its com­peti­tors to over­come. Fol­low­ing McDow­ell’s eighth-place ef­fort, Paul Fag­nano was ninth, Reed Pilk­er­ton was 10th, Sam- uel Kat­ulich was 11th, Ben Cian­cio was 13th and Sean O’Roark came in 14th. All six fin­ished within 33 sec­onds of each other.

“They per­formed as well as we wanted them to per­form to­day,” Leonard- town head coach Brooke Fal­lon said. “They ran a re­ally good race. Our boys were re­ally hop­ing for first. They had some goals they set and they reached them, and our girls, as well. They achieved a goal they set out to do. We’re very ex- cited about the first for the boys and the sec­ond for the girls.

“Re­gions is go­ing to be re­ally tough. We’re al­ready think­ing ahead to that. We re­ally want to have a good show­ing there, as well, and show ev­ery­body that Leonard­town re­ally is com­pet­i­tive in a big­ger re­gion.”

Be­hind Diehl at the front of the boys pack was West­lake’s Jay Hall, who fin­ished sec­ond (16:25.74). North­ern’s Char­lie Sweeney and Greg Old­ham took third and fourth, re­spec­tively, while Chop­ti­con’s Tyler Mo­drze­jew­ski nipped Calvert’s John Dodsworth at the fin­ish line for fifth. Patux­ent’s Bren­don Jones was sev­enth.

“I knew it was go­ing to be a fast pace, at first,” Hall said of the race. “I hit right around 4:45 for the first mile , which is pretty fast for a cross coun­try meet. I just wanted to stick right with the lead­ers and try to con­tend for the top spot.

“I feel like I’m good [for the re­gional and state meets]. There are things I can im­prove on, but over­all I feel good about where I am right now. I know I can be at least around this time.”

Diehl was feel­ing op­ti­mistic about what is still ahead, too, hop­ing to fin­ish the sea­son fast.

“I’m feel­ing re­ally good, ac­tu­ally,” he said. “The past cou­ple of meets I wouldn’t say we’ve been go­ing all out. We’ve been do­ing a lot of good tempo in­ter­val work­outs. We’ve been get­ting ready for these three meets, SMAC, re­gion­als and states.”

STAFF PHOTO BY ANDY STATES

An­nie Imhof of Great Mills, North­ern’s Molly Bar­rick and North Point’s Rachel Nueslein run close to­gether dur­ing the girls race at the SMAC cross coun­try meet at Chap­tico Park on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. Bar­rick fin­ished sec­ond, Imhof third and Nueslein fifth in the race.

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