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feel­ing that not all three of us would keep that pace. I didn’t know if Naomi would, but then (Lee) fell back and I was scared she was go­ing to catch up. So I tried to keep Naomi in my sights.”

It wasn’t long be­fore Bowser moved into the lead while Con­nelly set­tled into sec­ond. Con­nelly, who ran against Bowser in the 1,600 me­ters dur­ing the in­door track sea­son last win­ter, wasn’t sure how strong the Smyrna se­nior would be at the longer dis­tance, but couldn’t close the gap over the sec­ond and third miles. That didn’t mean the Kent Is­land ju­nior wasn’t push­ing for time on a course that was hard, dry and fast.

“In the woods, ob­vi­ously with the turns, I couldn’t see her,” Con­nelly said of Bowser. “So I just kept imag­in­ing some­one by me. And I kept try­ing to hear foot­steps be­hind me so I could keep push­ing my­self.

“She was so good at the mile (in­doors) and I could never stay with her,” Con­nelly con­tin­ued of Bowser. “But I thought, maybe, you know, she’s not that great at 5K. Maybe this wasn’t her event, that maybe I could try to be with her. And I just used her to mo­ti­vate me re­ally.”

Bowser held on to her com­fort­able lead, hit­ting the fin­ish line in 18:33.38 be­fore Con­nelly crossed with a sur­pris­ing PR 40 sec­onds later.

“I thought I was go­ing to run like a 19:30,” said Con­nelly, who was fourth here a year ago with a time of 19:51.73. “I didn’t ex­pect 19:13. I was real ex­cited about that.”

Lee fin­ished third in 19:37.23, pac­ing North­west — from Ger­man­town — to a first-place to­tal of 34 points, well ahead of runner-up Smyrna, which fin­ish 61 points back. Kent Is­land, bol­stered by Carly Turner (15th) and Han­nah Claggett (19th) fin­ish­ing in the top 20, placed fourth in the team stand­ings.

Queen Anne’s was sev­enth, led by se­nior Tay­lor Peck, (eighth) and ju­niors Maisie Mee­han (11th) and Ju­lia Red­path (20th).

The boys’ race be­came a three-man duel, with Sanchez and Al­bert Nor­man of Sus­sex Cen­tral, Del. pur­su­ing Del­mar’s Austen Cave, who never re­lin­quished the lead af­ter mov­ing to the front in the first mile.

“I learned my mis­take; don’t let any­body out that far in the first mile,” Sanchez said of Cave. “We kept the same dis­tance between us the rest of the race, the sec­ond and third mile. It was just a mat­ter of fact that I just let him out in the first mile with­out re­ally try­ing to catch up to him.”

Nor­man stayed between Cave and Sanchez un­til the fi­nal half mile, when the Kent Is­land se­nior hit a surge, moved into sec­ond and stayed there. Cave won in 15:54.83, while Sanchez crossed the fin­ish line 18 sec­onds faster than his pre­vi­ous per­sonal record. Nor­man was third in 16:12.15.

“I kind of wanted to be around like 4:55,” Sanchez said of the open­ing mile. “I think he (coach) said like 4:50 was my first mile. But I kept it though, came in at 10:08 at the two mile. My last mile was a lit­tle bit slower than the rest, but it was just me and that guy (Nor­man); that was the guy I was fo­cus­ing on at that point.

“I re­ally wanted to break 16, but I mean it’s all right,” said Sanchez, who fin­ished sixth a year ago in 16:50.25. “This is a real con­fi­dence booster.”

Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester ju­nior Con­nor McCroy was the only other Bay­side Con­fer­ence runner in the boys’ com­pe­ti­tion to crack the top 20, fin­ish­ing eighth in 16:51.69. The next Bay­side runner was North Caro­line’s Troy Smith, who fin­ished 24th in 17:43.67.

North­west won the boys’ team ti­tle with 45 points, eas­ily out­dis­tanc­ing sec­ond-place Cae­sar Rod­ney, Del. (119). Kent Is­land (169) fin­ished sixth fol­lowed by Eas­ton (11th), North Caro­line (12th), Cam­bridge-SD (13th), Queen Anne’s (14th) and Stephen De­catur (15th).

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Bil­l_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@star­

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