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MPSSAA Maryland
State Championships

Hereford High School, Parkton MD

Saturday, November 14, 2009
Coronation March: Seniors Rule.
Past Champ Rises Again: Palmer Points Next to NXN.

From mpssaa.org and runhigh.com - Boys Results - Girls Results
Race Distance: 3 miles | RunHigh results page - MPSSAA Pages Boys - Girls | Schedule

Team Champs:
  • Class 4A - Boys: Walter Johnson 73 (Churchill 89).  Girls: Severna Park 89 (Thomas Johnson 95)
  • Class 3A - Boys: Damascus 117.  Girls: River Hill 68
  • Class 2A - Boys: Winters Mill 68.  Girls: Century 39
  • Class 1A - Boys: Bohemia Manor 61.  Girls: Bohemia Manor 22

By David Austin, Dyestat Correspondent

HEREFORD HS - When it rains in Maryland’s picturesque horse country, the footing gets treacherous, all slick mud and slippery grass. But they don’t postpone the steeplechase: the big animals just pound through the mud and go. And at today’s state meet, held as always on the famously hilly Hereford course just north of Maryland’s Hunt Valley the state’s best high-school cross country runners do the same. Lace ‘em up, everyone’s gotta run in it. (But if you can, you keep to the side in places, or risk taking a mud bath.) The slick conditions did not seem to affect any race outcomes, but they put paid to any thoughts of fast times. Instead, the focus was on racing.

On a soggy but mild autumn day in northern Maryland, favored contenders came through with wins in both the individual and team races. The conditions precluded any real runaway races, but instead there was enough drama in several of them to keep things quite exciting. And one race offered a glimpse of how the balance of power on the national scene may be changing.

The traditional Footlocker individual championship, around since the 1970s, now must compete for top-end talent with the much newer Nike XC Nationals, which after several years with a teams-only concept now offers the best individual runners a chance to compete alongside full teams in an NCAA-format title race. Maryland 4A champion Andrew Palmer, who also won here as a sophomore and finished a creditable second here last year to eventual Footlocker national champion Solomon Haile, now has the chops to contend for a top-ten slot or better at Footlocker. But he just wants to go where the best runners are going to be. And this year, with a number of the nation’s top runners on nationally-ranked teams, Palmer thinks Nike’s NXN is where he’ll find them.
. . . MORE

 Andrew Palmer
 3A boys climb out of the Dip
photos by David Austin

Palmer has to shake off William Neal

In the boys’ 4A race, heavily-favored Andrew Palmer of Bethesda’s Walt Whitman High School was matched stride-for-stride in the opening mile by Chesapeake’s William Neal. “I didn’t know who he was, but he was not letting me go,” Palmer would comment afterward. And although Neal did fall away in very short order coming up out of the Dip—the infamous, and very deep, ravine the runners traverse twice on this course—before the halfway point, he was able to keep Palmer more or less in view and hold for second place in the race. Palmer, meanwhile, had entertained thoughts of breaking the course’s formerly inviolable 16-minute barrier (never done before last year), and with a 5:10 first mile he was on perfect pace for that. But a loop around a soccer field high up in the woods, out of reach for all but the fastest spectators, proved a quagmire and Palmer came through the two-mile mark 25 seconds off record pace and knowing at that point that his only concern was to win. To nobody’s surprise, he did win, in 16:48, twelve seconds slower than his sophomore time on this course when he won in a mild upset. Palmer goes out with an almost unmatched record in this meet, with a top-ten finish as a freshman followed by his 1-2-1 finishes the past three years. He will be running next year for NCAA-bound Syracuse, which has a core of top young runners. Palmer is ready to run with them, though he expects to redshirt his first year.

In the 4A team competition, Bethesda’s Walter Johnson was a repeat winner with a narrow but comfortable 73-89 win over neighboring Winston Churchill in DC’s northwestern suburbs. WJ returns three of their top five runners next year, and will be aiming to make it three in a row.

Girls 4A

On the girls’ side in 4A, senior Jessie Rubin of Wootton in Rockville capped an undefeated season with a 30-second win over an excellent field that included returning state champion Anna Bosse. In the early stages Bosse gave Rubin all the compettion she could handle, leading the way up out of the ravine near the halfway mark. But Rubin asserted herself at that point and from then on it was her show. Her winning time of 19:48 was not far behind last year’s winning time in dry conditions. Savanna Plombon of Thomas Johnson High caught Bosse for second in the closing stages of the race. Both are juniors and can renew this new rivalry next year.

In the team competition, Severna Park improved on last year’s 3rd-place finish with very narrow win over Thomas Johnson, 89-95. Johnson was ahead by 13 points in the first two positions; Severna’s win came down to its strength in the 3-4-5 slots, picking up 5-3-11 points there to seal the win.


In 3A competition—nominally for slightly smaller schools though several teams each year seem to switch between 3A and 4A—the girls’ race featured a solid, 15-second win by Becky Yep, senior from Mt. Hebron, over Clarskburg frosh Abigail Daley, with North Harford’s Megan Schott, a junior, another eleven seconds back. As in both of the 4A races, the eventual winner, Yep, continued to be challenged by an eventual podium finisher (Daley in this race) but once again the ravenous Dip exacted its due. Daley was caught by Schott midway through the race and fell behind before reclaiming the second spot in the last stage of the race. But it was Becky Yep at the front in every stage of the race, including the only one that matters – the finish line. Her time 20:25 over Daley 20:40 and Schott 20:51.

In the 3A girls’ team battle, host Hereford High was once again runner-up. This well-coached team, with this first-class XC training facility right on their school campus, has been bridesmaid every year since 2006. Their time to ascend to the top podium spot will surely come. They were undone this year by River Hill, but though RH is the 3rd different team to snatch the winner’s cup from Hereford’s hands since 2006, it was a well-earned win, 68-81, with points gained in every position except the deuce slot.

As individual races go, the 3A boys’ race is one of the most competitive affairs your Dyestat correspondent has seen in the six years he has been covering these races. At one mile there was a large pack of contenders. The first descent into the Dip, normally traumatic enough to shake things up in a lead pack, settled nothing. Nor did the muddy slog up the other side. The trek through the woods, a slog through the muck, and a traverse of the well-groomed, well-drained, serpentine grass track at the top of the course left…a train of six runners, one after the next, all in fine position to win. The second dip into the Dip did nothing but space the runners out, but they were compacted into a bunch again coming up for the final 3/5 of a mile. When the course flattened out, there were several dramatic lead changes. North Harford’s Noah Hutton was the nominal leader through much of this drama, but he surrendered the lead to Northern’s Ryan O’Connor when the track flattened out at the top of the hill. O’Connor had lurked in 2nd  for much of the race, trailed closely by Mason Rivera of host Hereford. (They were in turn shadowed by Evan Laratta of Quince Orchard and Tyler Ostrowski of Chopticon.) The last stage of the course is not within spectator view, and it was at this stage that the final drama unfolded, a dramatic seizing of the lead by the patient Ostrowski, who had bided his time in 5th place for much of the race. He came into view for the final, flat, 200m sprint to the finish with Hutton right on his shoulder and Rivera right behind. Hutton pressed to the end, but it was Tyler Ostrowski, becoming the 4th senior victor in the four races, who came through with the best kick, winning by 5 meters, tripping the clock at 17:12 to 17:13 for Hutton, with Rivera about 15 meters back at 17:16. O’Connor held off Laratta for 4th, 17:28 to 17:30. Such excitement!

Teamwise it was Damascus with the win, 117 to 141 over 2007 4A champion Quince Orchard. QO had fewer points in all of the 1-2-3 positions but that gave them only a 9-point edge. Damascus was dominant in the 4-5 positions for a 24-point win, which improves on their fine 3rd-place finish from last year and their 4th in 2007.


GIRLS                                       BOYS
Class 4A: 10:00 a.m.               Class 4A: 11:00 a.m.
Class 3A: 10:30 a.m.               Class 3A: 11:30 a.m.
Class 1A:   1:30 p.m.               Class 1A:   2:30 p.m.
Class 2A:   2:00 p.m.               Class 2A:   3:00 p.m.

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