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).
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