The top five sports stories of 2018 are in
Standing atop the state
Having graduated some seniors who had been integral parts of a team that had won back-to-back state championships, there was a bit of an unknown factor surrounding the Northern girls cross country team as the 2018 fall season began.
By the second Saturday in November, this year’s Patriots answered any outstanding questions and in rather emphatic fashion. Northern followed a perfect regular season with titles at both of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference and Class 3A South Region championship meets, and then capped off the season with a third consecutive 3A state title at the annual state gathering at Hereford High School in Parkton.
Led by a second-place finish by senior Claudia Dolan, the Patriots placed five runners within the top 26 to finish with a score of 56, 12 points clear of runner-up Bel Air.
“The girls side of things, they actually panned out how I had hoped,” Northern head coach Josh Dawson said after the meet. “I can’t say planned, but it worked out great. Bel Air is a great team, they are the team that should have come in and won, just because of the depth that they have, but we were able to put three in front of their first runner. Claudia Dolan, Hannah Mack and Sydney Yankanich, 2, 3 and 6 overall. I’m absolutely excited. It’s the first time they’ve actually been surprised with the win. It was awesome. The girls were here to win.”
While there may not have been supreme confidence that the team could deliver the three-peat at the season’s start, it was certainly always the goal.
“It’s really just been the training that we’ve done all season,” Claudia Dolan said. “We have worked up to peaking for this race. We’ve prepared as much as we could and our coach did a great job. It’s kind of bittersweet. It’s painful to do running, but I’m really happy that we ended it with a team title again. It’s the best way to end it.”
Dolan won the girls races at both the SMAC and 3A South meets leading up to the state championships, and had won the Bull Run Invitational at Hereford earlier in the season. But on Nov. 10, Huntingtown’s Oakley Olson, who has since transferred to Northern, was the first to cross the line.
“It didn’t go how I want- ed it to,” Dolan said of the race. “We had an event here earlier this season and I was pretty consistent, right around the same time that I ran at that invite. As far as the season goes, I progressed well and stayed up with my fitness. I was hoping to come home with a win today. Huntingtown sophomore Oakley Olson was close competition and beat me. We were even neck-and-neck all season, so I’m happy that she was the one that beat me today.”
After finishing runner-up to Dolan at both SMAC and regionals, the state title was an obviously satisfying conclusion to the season for Olson.
““For me it was a really big accomplishment,” Olson said. “It was a big surprise because I had Claudia and Hannah [Mack] all season, and at regionals I lost to [Dolan] by a couple seconds. So it was a really big deal, and I didn’t think it was possible until the last half mile of the race. Huntingtown is a really new program and we’re young, so our school is supporting it. My two little brothers have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, so their muscles are breaking down and soon they can’t walk anymore and I was running for them.”
Huntingtown’s Oakley Olson cross the finish line at the state cross country meet at Hereford High School on Nov. 10.
Northern’s Claudia Dolan runs at the state cross country meet in November. Dolan finished second to lead the Patriots to their third consecutive Class 3A championship.