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Smithsburg girls, Clear Spring boys take cross country titles

November 12, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

PARKTON, MD. - As expected, Washington County runners swept the Class 1A boys and girls team titles Saturday at the Maryland State Cross Country Championships.

The surprise was who joined the Clear Spring boys team on top of the podium.

The Smithsburg girls edged prerace favorite and defending champion Williamsport 75-78 for the title. Williamsport had beaten Smithsburg in all eight of their meetings this season before Saturday.

It was the Smithsburg girls team's fourth state title and first since 2001.

"Honestly, this was our season-long goal," Smithsburg coach Ray Shriver said. "We've talked about this since Aug. 15. It's been our focus all season.

"We've been helped by running against Williamsport all season because we worked on catching them each meet. We just kept the focus on the real prize and never gave up."

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While the Leopards didn't earn any individual medals, awarded to the top 15 finishers, they countered Williamsport's trio of medal winners by placing all five of their scorers between Williamsport's third and fourth runners.

"We pulled it off. We all worked together," said Chelsea Connelly, who placed 16th to lead the Leopards, covering the hilly three-mile course in 23:45. "That's what we've been working for all season.

"It helps that we're really close this year," she said. "We're all friends, we all get along and we're all equally driven."

Also for Smithsburg, Natalie Mancini was 19th (23:53), Taylor Donley 20th (24:01), Gabby Taylor 30th (24:41) and Emily Ledden 41st (25:28).

The Leopards' time gap between their first and fifth runners was 1:43. Williamsport's was 3:48.

"The gap's been a problem all year," said Williamsport coach Randy Buchman, whose girls teams have won three of the last five state titles. "But our girls did the best they could do. It's nobody's fault."

"Smithsburg ran a great race," he said. "It was just a matter of time before they did what they did today. Pack racing wins. That's what helped us in the past."

The Clear Spring boys are perfectionists.

Despite beating runner-up Northern Garrett by a comfortable 43 points, 52-95, for their second straight state title, they didn't seem to be in much of a celebratory mood.

"It wasn't a perfect day," Clear Spring coach Jaime Mason said. "Some of them didn't reach their individual goals for today, and that's playing with their heads a little bit right now."

"They're a little upset, but I'm not disappointed," she said. "I'm excited. I was like, 'You guys need to be more excited. You just won your second straight title.'"

Dustin Adams placed eighth in 18:00 to lead Clear Spring, while Ben Courter was 10th (18:09), Cory Horton 13th (18:25), Justin Grove 19th (18:38) and Ryan Shifler 25th (18:47).

"Last year, we won with 32 points. We wanted to do a little better than that," Adams said. "I wanted to break 18, and I didn't do that. I don't think anybody's happy with how they ran."

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