Beauty is in the eye of the record holder

December 29, 2005|by ANDY MASON

A foot race between Mike McGill and Rachel Buser probably would be as ugly as a wrestling match between them.

Taking on either athlete was never a very flattering experience in 2005 as they always came out looking much prettier than their competition.

McGill and Buser might not necessarily have been the area's best-looking prep athletes I witnessed in action in 2005, but they easily were the most dominant.

Buser ended her phenomenal freshman year last spring by winning four gold medals at the West Virginia Class AA state track championships. The Berkeley Springs sensation then began her sophomore year this fall with an undefeated cross country season, capped by her second straight Class AA-A state title.


McGill, a 2005 Williamsport graduate now attending the University of Maryland, made the most of his final wrestling season with the Wildcats. The 145-pounder won his second straight Maryland 2A-1A state title in March after winning a fourth straight West region crown.

While McGill and Buser both collected honors and accolades far and wide in 2005, I think I was most impressed by what they did right here in Washington County at two of the county's premier events - the Hub Cup wrestling tournament at North Hagerstown in January and the Don Stoner cross country race at Smithsburg in October.

McGill was the No. 2 seed in his weight class at the Hub Cup, and he made Linganore's Tim Miller pay for being seeded No. 1, showing little mercy in their championship bout. Instead of quickly putting Miller out of his misery with a pin, McGill threw him around the mat and bent him into all different shapes and sizes until the match finally was stopped in the third period. The Williamsport senior won by tech fall, 20-5.

"A pin would have been really nice, but with a tech fall you get to show off your moves," McGill, voted the Hub Cup's Outstanding Wrestler, said after the bout. "I was really pumped up for the match and felt I had something to prove. ... I wanted to get some respect."

At the Don Stoner Invitational - which drew competitors from four states and 25 schools to Smithsburg's hilly 3.04-mile course - I distinctly remember watching Gettysburg's Mary Kane take second in the girls race. She crossed the finish line just as I was wrapping up my interview with Buser, who had finished a little more than 2 minutes earlier in a course-record 18:30.

"I liked the course. ... I love hills," said Buser, who needed only a few seconds of recovery time before she was ready to talk with me. "I just ran my race and stayed focused."

She won by 2 minutes! That's a convincing margin of victory in a marathon. In a prep cross country race, it's as ugly as it is beautiful.

Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at

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