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Lilley, Wildcats lead the pack in 1A West

October 31, 2008|By ANDREW MASON

WILLIAMSPORT -- Michael Lilley said he just couldn't find his rhythm Thursday afternoon at the Maryland Class 1A West Cross Country Championships.

But because the Williamsport senior marches to his own beat, he stood out anyway.

"I just couldn't get my legs rolling, and I couldn't relax," Lilley said. "Being in school all day kind of drains you. It's a little bit different than racing on weekends.

"But I still won by a pretty good margin, so I'm not totally bummed."

Lilley did more than just win on his home course, he set the course record, covering the 3 miles in 15 minutes, 49.8 seconds. Two-time state champion Ryan Bowser of Northern Garrett set the previous mark of 15:53.7 at last year's region meet.

Naseem Haje, Lilley's teammate, finished second Thursday in 16:11.5 as the pair led the Williamsport boys team to its first region championship since 1975. The Wildcats, who also have won MVAL Antietam and Washington County titles in the last two weeks, held off runner-up Mountain Ridge, 47-77.

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"This is what we've been training for -- MVALs, counties, regions and states," Lilley said. "We're 3-for-3 and we still have states left. Hopefully next Saturday we can make it 4-for-4."

The Maryland state meet will be held Nov. 8 at Hereford High School. The top six boys teams and top five girls teams Thursday advanced. Individually, the top 19 boys and top 18 girls also automatically qualified.

Both the girls and boys teams from Williamsport and Smithsburg made the cut.

While the Williamsport girls didn't achieve their goal of winning, finishing a close second (66-77) to Southern Garrett, coach Randy Buchman couldn't fault their efforts.

"Every one of the girls ran to the best of their ability today. As a coach, you can't expect more than that," he said. "We didn't beat ourselves."

Tracey Forsythe, the two-time county champ, led the Wildcats, placing third in 19:40.7 -- her personal-best time for 3 miles. Brunswick's Sara Fisher won the race in a course-record 18:32.6.

"I didn't really plan on winning," Forsythe said. "I just wanted to PR and have a good race."

The Smithsburg girls and boys teams each finished fourth. Last year, the Leopards won the girls title, while the boys finished second.

"We lost a lot of talent. We're rebuilding," Smithsburg coach Ray Shriver said. "A lot of people kind of wrote us off, but the kids worked hard. Now we have to go run well at states."

David Wilson placed third in the boys race in 16:26.4 for Smithsburg, giving the county a sweep of the top three spots.

Other top-20 boys finishers included: Williamsport's Rio Ferrario (eighth, 17:00.4) and Jesse Buchman (15th, 17:20.6); Smithsburg's Zach Cross (12th, 17:12.9) and Jake Shriver (16th, 17:22.8); Clear Spring's Cory Horton (13th, 17:15.4); and Boonsboro's Evan Moser (17th, 17:24.2) and Jordan Acton (18th, 17:28.7).

Last season, Acton fell just fractions of a second short of nabbing the final spot for states. This time he made it with one place to spare.

"I was counting spots the entire way and yelling at him," Boonsboro coach Becky Walter said. "He's happy. He kind of redeemed himself from last year. He's been working hard all season for it."

Other top-20 girls finishers included: Williamsport's Kellie Quinn (seventh, 21:01.2) and Kassie Lawrence (10th, 21:22.8) and Smithsburg's Stephanie Breen (ninth, 21:19.2).

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