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2006 Maryland State Meet

Conditions: exceptional. Light breezes, low 70s, firm footing

November 11, 2006 Hereford High School, Parkton MD

by Dyestat Correspondent David Austin


Historic day at Hereford:

  • Trio of three-time champions crowned
  • Roosevelt girls threepeat as well, despite missing key teammates to team-rule violations
  • Difficult course refuses to yield to records assault

4A (large-school) Boys
Oregon-bound senior Matt Centrowitz capped his high school cross country career at Broadneck in memorable form today, blitzing a strong field to win unchallenged, by 29 seconds, and claim his third state cross-country championship. In doing so, he becomes the first-ever boy from a large-school division to claim three Maryland titles, joining the celebrated Sally Glynn (4-time champion for Walter Johnson, 1992-1995) and Amanda White (a 3-time winner for Dulaney in the early 1990s) as three-peat winners in Maryland's large-schools cross-country divisions.

Centrowitz mounted a concerted assault on the course record—exactly sixteen minutes flat for three very hilly miles—by setting a torrid pace from the outset. Within the first half mile he had already established a 50m lead on his closest pursuer, Woodlawn's Dwight Parker (who would go on to finish second, edging Kelli Thibou of Roosevelt) and an even larger lead on the field (see photo). Centro blazed a 4:54 first mile, thirteen seconds up on a pace that, last year, brought him to within an eye-blink of the first-ever sub-16 clocking on this difficult course. He clocked 10:25 through two miles, putting him an astonishing 22 seconds up on last year's near-record pace. Only by tiring in the final mile did the course record elude Centrowitz, as he finished in 16:02.25, two seconds off his time in last year's state championship. (The record remains 16:00 by Mike Myers of Eastern (NJ), set in 2000).

After the race, Centrowitz indicated that his legs were feeling the effects of a heavy week of training (as he looks ahead to the Footlocker Regionals later this month), but it was a slip-and-fall (unseen by most spectators) 150 meters from the finish while rounding a tight, uphill turn that put paid to a somewhat disappointed Centrowitz’s record pursuit. (Don’t worry about it, Matt – you ran like a Duck today.)

In the team competition, 6th-ranked (NTN-Southeast) Quince Orchard presented a solid front, packing their top five between 9th and 16th place in team scoring, a mere gap of 25 seconds separating their first from their fifth scorer. QO notched a convincing 64-96 win over a game Sherwood, with Gaithersburg and Walt Whitman next to the podium. As QO returns six of their top nine runners next year, including four of their scorers, we can anticipate another strong showing from them this time next year. Also of note was Walt Whitman’s Andrew Palmer, who claimed 8th place (in 17:05) as a freshman among juniors and seniors.

Broadneck sr Matt Centrowitz; three-time MD State champ in 16:02.25 pictured 1,100m in
















Photo from David Austin

No pursuers in sight as Centrowitz ascends onto the back of the course, about 2300m into the race

Dwight Parker of Woodlawn (L) just edges Roosevelt’s Kelli Thibou (16:31.1 to 16:31.9)


 4A Girls
Eleanor Roosevelt's Marika Walker repeated as individual champion in a stellar 19:14, the fastest time of the day, leading her team to its third consecutive state crown. Roosevelt won the team championship despite the absence of Teshika Rivers and Dominique Lockhart - their #2 and #3 runners, who finished in second- and tenth places here last year - tipping Dulaney by 77-99. An invitation from Nike for a return trip to Team Nationals will presumably be proffered despite ER’s not putting all of their strongest feet forward today. Walker ran comfortably in the lead from the mile mark onward, gradually outpacing a trio of challengers from Montgomery County.

A strong finishing kick propelled Whitman junior Morgane Gay to second place in 19:22, narrowly ahead of Quince Orchard's Cara Harrison, with Churchill's Louise Hanallah (3rd here last year) another eight seconds back but more than thirty seconds up on the rest of the field.
  Girls’ 4A champion Marika Walker at two miles, with Harrison, Gay, and Hanallah in pursuit.
  L-R Walker, Harrison, Gay at 2.25 miles
 In other action, Atholton's Alison Smith claimed her third state cross-country title in the girls’ 2A division with a dramatic—and surprising, given the circumstances—win over Hereford's own Kristen Malloy. Earlier this season Malloy had simply destroyed the existing course record with a tremendous 18:40 effort, but was off her game here today. After running in tandem with Malloy through the opening phases of the race, Smith claimed the lead shortly before the mile mark. Heading into the Dip (about the mile-and-a-quarter point) the two-time defender had forged a lead of about fifteen meters over Malloy. About halfway down the slope, however, Smith tumbled head-over-heels and remained prone for an agonizing ten seconds while Malloy bolted past and into the lead. When Smith finally did get to her feet she looked initially as if she intended to drop out of the race, as she headed toward the side of the course.

Over the next 1200 meters, while a stunned Smith tried to regain her bearings, Malloy extended her lead to as much as 40 meters, but by the two-mile mark had just about surrendered the lead. Smith went on to victory in 19:30—the back of her singlet showing the effects of her tumble (see photo)—while Malloy was eventually caught by Howard’s Elyse Barisko for second place. Even on an off day, however—her finishing time of 20:06 was nearly 90 seconds slower than her course record—Kristen Malloy still found a spot on the podium, with a hard-won 3rd place finish. We have not heard the last from this young talent, still just a sophomore.

In team scoring, Hereford made a strong bid for a state championship on its home course but was bested by Howard High School by a score of 45-68.
  Malloy (L) and Smith, in tandem about 900 meters into the race
  Smith’s dramatic tumble on the downslope cost her a lead that she would not regain for nearly a mile
  part of the course that few spectators get to see, about 600m beyond the Dip
 At two miles, Smith lurks just behind a tiring Malloy, and would reclaim the lead within 100m
 Nearing the final stage of the race, a determined Smith covers the ground where she had fallen
 At the finish line, Smith’s singlet bears testament to her difficult path to the winner’s circle
 The girls’ 3A race also offered its share of drama, as Mount Hebron’s Liz McCarter collapsed and fell from the course within a few meters of the finish line. Meanwhile her nearest competitor, defending champion Katie Hursey, to whom McCarter had lost three times previously this season but who had fallen back today after a competitive opening mile, was still 50 meters from the finish but closing fast. As the crowd gasped, McCarter rose unsteadily and lurched toward the finish line as Hursey drew ever nearer. At the last possible second, McCarter found the finish line unaided and fell where she was, just over the line, while Hursey crossed just over a second later. Severna Park tallied an 80-116 victory over River Hill in the team competition.
 Nearing the two-mile mark, McCarter runs comfortably ahead of Hursey
 After maintaining her lead through the final stages of the race, McCarter collapses, rises, and lurches across the finish line just ahead of Hursey
In other boys’ action, Christopher Bowie of Bethesda-Chevy Chase steamrollered down into the Dip on his return trip having claimed the lead on the back of the course, and beat Derek Lange of Wilde Lake to the finish line by an ample fifteen seconds (16:47 – 17:02) in the 3A boys’ race. Lange and his teammates, however, staked their claim as the second-best team of the day behind Quince Orchard with a 36-80 win over Bel Air High School. Wilde Lake’s five scorers finished 2-3-7-9-15, with only sixty seconds separating their #1 and #5 runners.

And senior Andrew Revelle won Atholton’s second triple crown of the day, with a successful defense of his titles in the boys’ 2A race from 2004 and 2005. Revelle’s time was a sparkling 16:17, second-fastest of the day, and his 45-second margin of victory was the widest out of all eight races. The three-time champion was pursued by Arthur Leathers and Jared Welsh, a pair from Francis Scott Key high school, Atholton’s main rival in the team race. Through two miles Revelle matched the 10:47 pace that Centrowitz and Mikias Gelagle (now at Arizona St) laid down last year through two miles. Over the final mile Revelle did not match the 5:13 that Centro threw down in 2005, and thus did not threaten the course record—but he did close faster than Centrowitz today, 5:30 as compared to 5:37 off a faster pace. In the team competition, Leathers and Welsh paced their team to a 51-75 win for Key over Atholton. (See photos)
  Atholton’s Andrew Revelle (L) and Graham Bazell lead the way; to execute this hairpin turn the 145 competitors had to funnel down into single-file formation just 40 seconds into the race
 Most spectators remain corralled behind fencing, but they can still get up-close and personal. Revelle rounds a bend at a mile and a quarter, trailed by teammate Bazell
  As he turned for home, Ravelle was completely clear of the Dip before his nearest competitor had even come into view
A final word about the Dip. Every year it claims its victims. If it doesn’t harvest them directly, as when runners cartwheel out of control, tumble and fall, or claw at the turf as they climb, it still often takes its toll at the end of the race. Every year, some runners struggle toward the finish line on the verge of, if not in an actual state of collapse. Some may debate the fairness of it all. But this course has history on its side—the three-mile layout dates from 1974 and all but one state championship since 1980 has been held on this course. Bull Run offers wide pathways for runners, excellent footing (barring hurricane or deluge), and the kinds of tests and challenges that separate the strongest from the others. It’s hill and dale writ large.

Just how large? Putting aside the fact that, other than a couple of circuits across the school’s sports fields, there are few level places anywhere on the course, just how big is that famous double dip? Well, it drops 70 feet within about 410 feet—an average grade of 17%—before rising more than 80 feet up onto the back of the course. The famed and dreaded switchbacks at Mt. SAC are a little steeper (and the hill that they are cut into is a lot steeper), maxing out at about 24%. And that hill, one of three major climbs on the course, involves a 120-foot ascent in the space of 1,030 linear feet. By comparison, the steepest street in San Francisco, Filbert, rises 80 feet within one city block, at a 31.5% grade. But even if Bull Run is not quite the steepest or the highest, its unique down-and-up challenge places it shoulder-to-shoulder with the toughest hills at Mt SAC and in the city of San Francisco!

Despite its several tall and steep climbs, the course at Mt SAC also offers plenty of flat terrain where runners can establish a rhythm and generate some speed. Some speed! Mt. SAC’s three-mile h.s. course record is 14:24, set last year by Diego Mercado. To be sure, over the years Mt SAC has attracted very deep and very talented fields. But still, even the 30th-best time on SAC’s all-time list is 14:44. You could bring out the best high school runners in the country, year after year, to race at Bull Run, and you just would never see times that fast. The Dip is not the only reason for that—there are other significant climbs scattered throughout the course—but maybe nowhere else does a runner have to descend the equivalent of a seven-story building and then climb right back up—twice! That challenge seems to keep ‘em coming back.

How many other cross-country courses have crash pads on the trees??


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