Leonardtown girls run to victory in the rain
Calvert boys, Leonardtown girls sweep cross country meet
On a cold, wet, rainy day, it was the Leonardtown girls and the Calvert boys cross country teams that shined brightest during a tri-meet Wednesday at Leonardtown High School that also included Great Mills.
The Leonardtown girls (2-0 SMAC/overall) earned two wins after it slipped past Calvert 26-29 and defeated Great Mills 15-50. The Cavaliers (1-1) earned the split following a 15-48 win over the Hornets (0-2).
The Calvert boys took seven of the top-10 places to collect wins over Leonardtown (24-35) and Great Mills (15-50). The Raiders (1-1) salvaged a win on the day with a 16-47 victory over Great Mills (0-2).
“It’s a big win, especially against Leonardtown because they’re so deep,” Calvert head coach John Major said. “Once we get to our No. 4,5, 6, 7 run- ners, they’re pretty much a good group and today it came down to them, so it was just as important as Justin winning. I’m pleased.”
Justin Diehl of Calvert won the boys race in 16 minutes 32.50 seconds. Sean O’Roark of Leonardtown (16:53.10), John Dodsworth of Calvert (17:00.50), Parker McDowell of Leonardtown (17:09.50) and Paul Fagnano of Calvert (17:18.90) rounded out the top five.
“Yeah, I’m happy with it,” Diehl said. “At first I told myself I wasn’t going to lead the first mile and then for some reason I was in the lead, so I just scratched that plan and went [for it]. We’re running off pretty tired legs [after competing in the Seahawk Invitational at South River High School in Anne Arundel County on Saturday] and we don’t want to peak too early.”
“I didn’t do too well personally,” Fagnano said. “I felt good during the race, but I wish I would have done better. After the race I didn’t feel tired or anything. I feel I could have put in more effort.”
Kevin McDanal was the first Great Mills boys runner to cross the finish line, placing 12th in 19:01.90.
“I did pretty decent,” said McDanal, a junior, who elected to wear spikes. “It was pretty muddy and raining so it fogged up my vision glasses, but it wasn’t bad. There was a long stretch in the woods where I didn’t see anyone, so it was hard to judge [how I was doing].”
In the girls race, Sydney Friedel of Calvert took the top spot in 20:50.80.
“I was just trying to go out with a good, steady pace the first mile and throw in some surges,” Friedel said. “I was getting tired, but I had to kick it up a bit. The course was pretty tough. There was a lot of mud, but there were also a lot of flat parts.”
“She’s been working
on getting out strong and faster,” Major said, “and she got out and held a nice lead.”
Leonardtown teammates Nelle Ray (21:29.60) and Emily Imhof (21:41.10) finished second and third, respectively. Rounding out the top five were Rachel Geiger of Leonardtown (21:43.70) and Dana Miller of Calvert (22:00.90).
“I just went out with all the girls and then just booked it the last mile or two,” said Ray, who added she had to make some adjustments on the slippery course. “It kind of changes your strategy because I wanted to sprint around the turns, but it was too muddy so I had to slow down.”
“I am very happy with the way that I ran,” Imhof said. “I’ve been really training on my endurance and trying to get my pace down, and this is a really hard course, so I’m really happy with the time that I ran. I really tried to work on Mile 2 because that’s my weakness, so I started pumping my arms, singing in my head and just really relaxing my shoulders. I feel my form was much better.”
“I was excited today for them because this was their first meet where they’re all getting to run,” Leonardtown head coach Brooke Fallon said, referring to both of her teams. “They did a great job and most of them got personal records and made definite improvements. And we had some surprises for the girls and boys, so I’m excited to see the talent I saw today [this season].”
The top runner for the Hornets girls was freshman Jolie Ganzell, placing 13th in 23:21.90.
“It was a lot of fun to run in the rain and the hills made it a little harder,” Ganzell said, “but I think I did pretty well.”
“We have a lot of new runners, so I think we did a really good job,” Great Mills head coach Lynn O’Dell said of her two squads, many of whom set PRs. “We have two seniors who came out for their first time and a lot of ninth-graders and we have some returning people, but it’s basically a rebuilding year. This is technically their first time [competing], so I’m very happy.”
The meet also signified a sort of homecoming for Fagnano, who competed for the Raiders last year but transferred to Calvert High.
“Honestly, it was a bit weird seeing them across the [starting] line,” said Fagnano, who cooled down following the race with former Raiders teammate Parker McDowell. “We’re all just a group of guys who are trying to reach the same goal which is to be as good as we can be.”
On the girls side, Emily Imhof suited up for Leonardtown for the first time after running for Great Mills High last year.
“It’s much different and a little strange,” Imhof said of competing for a bitter county rival. “It’s so weird sometimes, and my mom really liked the yellow [jerseys] so she could see me. But I really like the girls and it’s also interesting just looking at the Great Mills team. There’s so many new faces.”
As for her former green-and-yellow and current blue-and-white wardrobe?
“I think I’m going to make a quilt where half is my Great Mills shirts and half of it is my Leonardtown shirts and take that to college,” Imhof said. “Then everyone will like, ‘Why are there two schools?’ and then I’ll tell them my unique story.”
Leonardtown’s Nelle Ray runs the last few meters on her way to a second-place finish on Wednesday in a home tri-meet that also included Calvert and Great Mills. Ray finished in a time of 21 minutes 29.60 seconds.