North Bayside runners don’t win, but watch times drop at Tidewater Fall Classic
SALISBURY — Sure, winning a big invitational at the season’s halfway point would have been nice.
But giving chase against a large field has its advantages, especially if it leads to a conference or regional title later this year.
“I thought the reason that those three all PR’d today, and had the races that they had was because they rose to the occasion, which is what we were hoping they would do,” Cambridge-South Dorchester High head cross country coach Sean Reincke said of Connor McCroy, Sarah Condon, and Carrie Price, who each clocked their best times of the season Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Winter Place Park during the 46th running of the Tidewater Fall Classic.
Condon was runner-up in the girls’ race, clocking a career personal-record time of 20 minutes, 39.33 seconds — 38 seconds behind champion Helena Lee of Northwest — while Price posted her best mark of the season with her fifthplace 21:21.97.
McCroy dueled Northwest’s Nahom Ftwi through the middle stages of the 3.1mile course before placing third in the boys’ race with a new career-low 16:50.36. Austen Cave of Delmar, Del., dominated the boys’ competition, finishing in 15:50.72, while Ftwi was second in 16:34.58.
“The biggest problem the past two years is I haven’t had anybody to chase,” McCroy said. “Until Baysides and regionals, there’s not going to be another race like this.”
Reincke and company weren’t the only ones feeling good on this warm, sunny afternoon
Kent Island first-year head coach Kristen Park watched her girls’ team finish third — two points behind second-place Northwest — while the boys were also third, yet finished with the same point total (95) as second-place Cape Henlopen, Del.
“We just wanted to have a good showing; kind of see how we stacked up with a larger region,” said Park, her teams posting the highest finish of any Bayside Conference school in the boys’ and girls’ competitions. “Those Delaware schools are always strong and we wanted to be up there with them.”
North Bayside schools did more than just keep up with Northwest of Germantown and Delaware’s Cape Henlopen in the girls’ race, placing six in the top 10, and 10 in the top 15.
Leading that string was Condon, who took over second place in the second mile and maintained that standing the remainder of the course.
“Chasing someone only makes you faster,” Condon said. “It will give you more fuel to actually pass them. Sometimes you might think that they’re actually going slow, but it ends up that they weren’t, and then you PR.”
Price agreed with her teammate.
“This race is a really pivotal moment,” Price said. “One, it’s like that halfwaythrough-the-season mark, and this race had a lot of good competition we won’t see again until the Bayside. Plus this has always been a real fast course for us. So this race is super important because we had some many people around us to race and actually get our time down, instead of just being in no-man’s land. We had people to be engaged with the whole time.”
Finishing between Condon and Price were Kent Island’s Fiona Mulligan and Queen Anne’s County’s Julia Redpath, who placed third and fourth, respectively, in 20:51.89 and 20:55.93.
“Running after someone definitely improves your time,” said Mulligan, who watched teammates Jules Biggam and Hannah Claggett finish in 13th and 14th place, respectively. “The last time I ran a 5k I think it was 22 something and my time dropped by over a minute (today). So definitely having somebody to chase improves your time.”
Also cracking the top 15 on the girls’ side were North Caroline’s Zoe Durner (sixth, 21:28.27) and Sierra Reynolds (10th, 22:04.07) and Queen Anne’s Maisie Meehan (12th, 22:08.60) and freshman Madelyn Toth (15th, 22:19.15).
Jia Yin Zheng was Kent Island’s fifth runner, finishing 41st.
Queen Anne’s was fourth in the girls’ team standings, with Grace Sweetak (33rd) and Grace Sutherland (58th) rounding out the top five.
While Kent Island’s boys, the eight-time defending conference champion, graduated one of the program’s more storied onetwo punches in middle-distance running — Brandon Nichols and Erick Sanchez — Park thinks the Bucs have another solid combination developing at the top in Isaiah Schulties and Finn Walsh, who were the only other two runners from the North to crack the boys’ top 10 other than McCroy.
“I just look at them as the second coming of Brandon (Nichols) and (Erick) Sanchez,” Park said after watching Schulties and Walsh run personal-record times yesterday. “I thought we’d have such a gap and Finn has really stepped it up this year. We’re happy to have a one-two punch again.”
Schulties finished sixth in 17:03.58, while Walsh crossed the finish line three places behind in 17:06.42.
“I think it’s really important to see where we stand on the Bayside,” Schulties said. “Even though we’re not going to be really facing them with bigger events coming up, it’s nice to know like where we stand compared to other people.”
Walsh also liked Wednesday’s added push.
“We’ve been together for most of the season and it’s usually only been us pushing each other,” Walsh said of regular-season meets. “So it’s great to have people that are faster than us to try and catch up to.”
Following Schulties and Walsh across the finish line for Kent Island were Cade Donnelly (17th), Sean Hobbs (28th) and Jack Pearse (35th).
Cambridge-SD’s boys had the second best finish among Bayside schools, placing seventh, with John Condon (29th), Bryce Jones (40th), Sam Slacum (55) and Faizan Ahmed (92nd) completing the top five.
Notes: The girls’ race had 178 runners, while the boys’ event had 250 . ... Northwest won the boys’ team competition with 45 points, with Cape Henlopen taking second with 95. ...Cape Henlopen won the girls’ title, 20 points ahead of runner-up Northwest.
North Caroline’s Cody Groves heads toward the finish line at Wednesday’s 46th annual Tidewater Fall Classic. Groves was the Bulldogs’ top runner in the boys’ competition, finishing 15th.
North Caroline’s Zoe Durner heads for the finish line Wednesday on the way to a sixth-place finish at the Tidewater Fall Classic.