Westlake’s Hall places 4th in 2A boys race at state meet; Northern girls, Patuxent’s Jackson win
PARKTON — Cross country runners from across the state took to the hills of Hereford High School on Saturday to put their legs to the test one last time in the 2016 sea- son. With coach, family and team support, each athlete embraced the challenge of the 3.1-mile course known for its hills.
Saturday’s 50-degree weather made the all-im- portant walk-through of the course and warm-up time even more import- ant for the athletes.
For Patuxent senior Hay- ley Jackson, she just want- ed some alone time to ponder and prepare mentally for the Class 2A race that started at 2:30 p.m. She knew she was going up against two strong runners in Julien Webster of Catoc- tin and Kelly Wesolowski of Hereford.
Her strategy worked again this year.
Patuxent head coach Dave Walser walked over closer to the viewing area to get set for the race and cheer on his team.
As the race began, Webster had a good lead in the first one-quarter of a mile. She struggled with cramping throughout the race and Jackson could be seen coming around the bend to head for the last hill of the day with her stride steady and still strong.
Jackson claimed the win, her third consecutive state title, with a time of 18 minutes 19.52 seconds.
“I’m going through so many emotions right now,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t easy today. I was going through emotions. I didn’t feel like they un- derstood [the pressure]. This race was really im- portant to me.
“The sport has definitely changed a lot for me. I’m going to miss it. I just appreciate the sport so much and just the differ- ent people that I’ve met, like Annie [Imhof] of Great Mills and Sydney [Friedel] of Calvert. It doesn’t feel like like a ri- valry type sport and I just love it so much. I’m ex- cited that tracks going to start, but I’m really going to miss my team. Coach [Walser] has been there for me. He’s let me cry on his shoulder at times when I’ve gotten angry or when I’m really excited, he’ll be there. My mom has coached me this sea- son and she’s changed so many things in the program for the positive. All the parents on our team are just so supportive and I can’t thank them enough.”
Hereford High won the girls 2A meet team title with 52 points. Calvert finished ninth with 214. Patuxent took 11th over- all with 319 and La Plata finished 17th with 490.
In the 2A boys race, Calvert sophomore Justin Diehl claimed sec- ond place in 16:18.71 as Eastern Tech senior Taylor Baranoski won in 16:03.88. Westlake junior Jay Hall was fourth with a time of 16:25.76.
Hall said he was happy with his time and his progress and he’s now ready for indoor track.
“I feel OK about it. There were some places I should have worked harder at on the course, but it was a good race overall,” Hall said, “I’m happy with my time. I did a lot better than last year. I improved so that was the good thing. I’m happy with the season overall. I got my times down to where I wanted them to be.”
Team-wise, Liberty of Carroll County was the 2A state boys champion with 42 points. Diehl and Calvert placed third over- all with 114 points, while La Plata (399), Patuxent (446), Westlake (495) and Lackey (510) were 14th, 16th, 17th and 19th, respectively.
Northern grabs title in 3A girls
The Patriots had four runners in the top 25 to take the 3A girls team title with 72 points, 17 better than second-place River Hill of Harford County. Northern placed second a year ago.
C. Milton Wright freshman Haley Cummins won the race in 18:41.61. Northern senior Molly Barrick was right behind her in second in 18:52.71.
“My strategy has always been to speed up in the second mile and close the gap and today my strategy was to stay with Annie [Im- hof] or one of the top girls [Cummins] for the first mile and then try to break the second mile,” Barrick said. “Our whole team trains all year for states, so this is definitely want we’ve been working toward all year so we just wanted to show everyone what we’ve been working for.”
Barrick’s finish was the first of three straight for SMAC runners. Imhof, a Great Mills senior, was third overall in 19:15.18, then Northern senior Abby Sweeney came in fourth, just 81 one-hun- dredths of a second later.
Great Mills finished 10th overall with 254 points and Huntingtown was 21st with 569.
“I didn’t quite have the race I was expecting today, but Haley Cummins is an amazing young tal- ent and Molly Barrick has been a great competitor all season,” Imhof said. “I’m looking forward to track season and then running at the Naval Academy next year. I was very excited that my sister Emily won a medal today as well (placing 20th, 20:44.64). I’m very proud of her and hope to run again on the same team in a couple years.”
River Hill won the 3A boys team title with 47 points. Northern finished 12th overall with 336, while Great Mills in 18th (448) and Huntingtown in 22nd (584).
Poolesville junior Ryan Lockett won the race in 16:00.65. Northern senior Charlie Sweeney was the first SMAC runner to fin- ish, taking 11th overall with a time 16:38.45.
Sweeney said he pre- pared well for the cold front that had come across the area by dressing in lay- ers all morning. He said Lockett passed him on the second mile and that it’s been a great year.
“I knew there would be a big pack of at least seven of us up front and so I was going to try and push up the back hills and do some work around mile two, but I ended up leading the first mile and I think I got a little anxious and pushed the pace and they passed me on the downhill,” Sweeney said. “I caught up a little and then from there on they just gradually went forward. I think my strength is more like 8Ks, like when I get to college, but I’m really happy with how this year turned out. I set a couple course records and regional champs, so...”
The boys 4A team state title went to Dulaney of Baltimore County with 97 points, edging Severna Park of Anne Arundel County by one point. Leonardtown took 13th with 320.
Individually, Chopticon sophomore Tyler Modrzejewski finished 15th overall, the first SMAC runner to finish, with a time of 16:49.53. Leonardtown junior Parker McDowell was 23rd (16:58.98). Richard Montgomery senior Rohann Asfaw won the race in 16:04.24.
On the girls side, the team winner was Walter Johnson of Montgomery County with 59 points. Leonardtown took 13th with 331.
North Point senior Rachel Nueslein finished 18th overall (20:23.73) to be the first conference runner to finish, while Leonardtown senior Liana Foianini was 24th in 20:43.45. Annapolis senior Maria Coffin won the race in 17:49.38.