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Clear Spring, Williamsport cross country state champs

November 13, 2005|By ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

PARKTON, MD. - For being Washington County's first boys and girls team sweep at the Maryland State Cross Country Championships, it looked surprisingly easy Saturday.

Clear Spring won the Class 1A boys team title and Williamsport captured the Class 1A girls crown as each placed its top five runners in the medal standings (top 15).

Clear Spring scored 32 points - 22 fewer than runner-up Beall, the two-time defending champ - for its first team title in cross country and the county's first boys team title since Smithsburg won the Class C race in 1977. Williamsport beat runner-up Digital Harbor 30-91 for the Wildcats' third girls cross country title in the last four years and seventh overall.

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"It's wonderful," Williamsport coach Randy Buchman said. "I don't know if it's been a dynasty, but it's been a good time."

A mile into the boys race, Beall's dynasty appeared to be intact.

"A mile in, I think Beall's top five were in front of our whole team," Clear Spring coach Jaime Mason said. "I was a little nervous, but it's what I told them to do. That was the race plan, not to go out too hard. Nobody cares who's winning at the mile."

The Blazers still had two hilly miles left to make their move on Hereford High School's notoriously challenging course, and they dominated the rest of the way.

At the finish line, Clear Spring's Josh Keyfauver was sixth in 17 minutes, 54 seconds, Ben Courter was eighth (18:02), Cory Horton 10th (18:11), Dustin Adams 12th (18:17) and Justin Grove 15th (18:27). Beall finished with only one runner in the top 15.

The efforts gave Clear Spring the school's first team title in any sport since the Blazers' volleyball team won it all in 1994.

"It hasn't hit us yet, but once we get back to school, it will," Keyfauver said. "This was the big thing. Everyone wished us luck before we left. We haven't had a very successful year in other sports, and they were looking for us to make something happen."

Williamsport, the state champion in 2002 and 2003 and the runner-up last year, never was threatened in the girls race. The only question was who would lead the way for the Wildcats, and the answer was somewhat surprising.

Sophomore Kara Hardy, Williamsport's seventh runner at last week's region meet and the younger sister of senior standout Makenna Hardy, was the Wildcats' first runner Saturday, finishing fifth in 21:55.

"She passed me and I was like, 'What the heck?'" Makenna Hardy, who finished seventh in 22:07, said laughing. "But it's OK, I guess."

"Kara Hardy. How about that?" Buchman said. "Just when you think you've got the girls figured out, they surprise me like this. Each one of them has had their day in the sun this season. All seven of them have had a great season at different points. The story this year has been the whole pack."

Williamsport got the rest of its scoring from Jordan Atha (ninth, 22:17), Theresa Ruland (13th, 22:40) and Laura Forsythe (15th, 22:51) as the Wildcats quickly returned to their perch at the top of Class 1A.

"The monkey's off my back," Buchman said. "It's been there for 364 days. There's not a day that's gone that I haven't relived last year's state meet, wondering what I might have done wrong."

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