Sweep puts Northern girls on brink of regular season title
There’s most likely no future for Josh Dawson as a basketball coach.
As a cross country coach? That’s a different story.
The Northern girls finished second through seventh and went on to sweep North Point, La Plata and host Leonardtown and remain perfect in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference dual meet season.
The Patriots (11-0 overall), who defeated the Raiders (20-41), Eagles (15-50) and Warriors (1550), are one win ahead of Leonardtown and need just one win in Wednesday’s finale against Chop- ticon and host Patuxent to win the title outright as Northern holds the tiebreaker.
“I’m happy overall and I think everyone’s working really hard and their times are dropping,” Dawson said. “I’m excited to see how the end of the season goes.”
Dawson’s future as a hoops coach was clear when he and his runners chucked empty water bottles from the bleachers and all missed the trash bin. Maybe they weren’t aiming for the trash? Or maybe they were?
Leonardtown freshman Nelle Ray won the race in
19 minutes 6.9 seconds to help the Raiders (10-1) take home two wins.
“I was kind of going to let Abby lead it for a bit and see where that took me and if I could pass her,” Ray said of Northern’s Abby Sweeney, who finished second, more than 27 seconds behind. “I knew she was really good, but I passed her right before we went in the woods the second time and then I just used all the turns and curves in the woods to get away from her.”
“She really wanted to beat Abby today so we said, ‘Go out and do what you need to do that’ and she did,” Leonardtown head coach Brooke Fallon said. “She’s just going crazy out there. She’s just a big surprise to us.”
Sweeney led an onslaught of seven Patriots to the finish line as Claudia Dolan (19:46.2), Sarah Deresky (20:20.4), Alyssa Tatum (20:49.3), Abby Setzfand (20:51.4) and Hannah Mack (20:54.1) all followed Sweeney to the finish line.
“I thought it was a pretty good race and I definitely had someone to push me,” Sweeney said of Ray. “She pushed me throughout the race and got me after the 2-mile [mark]. It was definitely a hard course with all of the roots and the hills and the rocks. The rocks definitely got the best of me coming out of the woods and I [fell and] got my knees pretty good.”
Leonardtown’s Emily Imhof (eighth, 20:59.9) and Rachel Geiger (ninth, 21:24.6), Northern’s Kaitlyn Delamer (10th, 21:25.1) and North Point’s Mya Rivenburg (11th, 21:43.9) rounded out the top-11.
“I’ve been having some hip pain, it’s been really tight, so I was happy to come back this week,” said Rivenburg, who was one of four Eagles to sit out last week’s race in an attempt to keep their legs fresh. “I really like this course because of all the woods; it keeps everything serene and relaxed. I don’t like running in circles so that one part where it goes around was kind of rough, but when I got back in the woods and started opening up my stride that really helped.”
The Eagles (6-4) managed a 15-43 win against La Plata.
Alexis Collins was the top runner for the Warriors (3-7) when she placed 36th in 25:43.4.
The roles were reversed on the boys side as Northern’s Greg Oldham won the race in 16:32.4, but the Raiders placed three runners in the top-5 to sweep the meet.
“I just went out as a reasonable pace and tried to keep it as long as I could,” Oldham said, “and when there was no one behind me I slowed down a little and kept my pace.”
The Raiders (10-1) swept Northern, La Plata and North Point to move a win up on the Patriots with one race remaining.
Final boys scores were unavailable at press time.
“We’re very proud of them because a few of them really had to fight hard in this meet,” Fallon said. “And there were some surprises as well so we were pleased to see some of the younger kids step up.”
“I was definitely looking forward to it and we just wanted to keep the train rolling and we definitely wanted to beat Northern because that would prove we were still pretty competitive,” said Leonardtown senior Parker McDowell, who placed second in 16:54.6. “We were eye-balling this meet and hats off to them, they put up a good fight.”
McDowell added: “I was planning on going out with Greg, but he went out and killed the first mile, so after that point I just wanted to settle in and stride out. I really wanted to focus on relaxing because the last few races I’ve had a problem tensing up.”
Northern (9-2) earned two wins on the day and the Eagles took one.
Northern’s Greg Oldham, right, held off Leonardtown’s Parker McDowell to win the boys race at Wednesday’s quad-meet that also included La Plata and North Point. Oldham won in 16 minutes 32.4 seconds.