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Winning isn't everything

Competition brings out best in Morgan, elementary school runners

Competition brings out best in Morgan, elementary school runners

October 03, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

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    Taylor Morgan has learned at an early age that you don't have to have a trophy to be a champion.

    Morgan sat confidently and satisfied after finishing one second behind Camryn Harper on Saturday in the fourth-grade girls race of the 28th annual Elementary School Cross Country Run at Emma K. Doub Elementary School.

    Even though Harper clutched the champion's prize while Morgan wore a runner-up medal, the Emma K. Doub student felt like a champion. Her actions made her a winner.

    Harper trailed Morgan near the halfway point of the 1,600-meter course when she made a wrong turn. Morgan stopped and yelled for her closest competitor to get back on line. She allowed Harper to take the lead and followed her to the finish line.

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"I say she could have got (the title), but when I went off course, she stopped and told me I was going the wrong way," said Harper, who represented Boonsboro Elementary.

Even in heated competition, it seemed like the right thing to do.

"I want to win all the time, but I saw she was a good runner and I didn't want her to go the wrong way," Morgan said. "I was getting a little tired and I knew she was a good runner. I wanted to give her the chance to get ahead of me."

Morgan and Harper were two of the 747 competitors who represented the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes of the county's 26 public elementary schools.

The champion in each of six divisions won a trophy while the next 14 finishers earned a medal. The next 15 finishers were awarded ribbons during a post-race ceremony, complete with a presentation and pictures.

"I just love this event," said Rich Secrest, the event coordinator. "I have been a runner for a lot of years, but I look forward to this every time. To see the kids come out and try their best, they do a wonderful job. They show a lot of character. They will remember this for the rest of their lives and know that now it's fitness forever."

Morgan showed what she knew about character in her race.

She followed Harper down the final stretch, well ahead in the 116-runner field. Morgan tried a final burst of speed in the final 200 yards to pass for the lead.

"I thought, 'Oh, oh. I'm going to get beat by her,'" Harper said.

Harper saw Morgan with a glance over her shoulder and protected the lead to finish in 7 minutes, 32 seconds.

"I was getting a little untired at the end," Morgan said. "I sped up to catch her at the end, but she sped up to beat me. I wanted to win, but I decided to let her come with me."

There was drama, a couple of handy victories and the crowning of a three-time winner at the event on a hilly course that featured three different running surfaces -- grass, asphalt and gravel. It was the first year for the event on the Emma K. Doub layout after spending a number of years on the fields across from Eastern Elementary School.

* Alexys Johnson was stung by a bee while taking the prerace walk around the 800-meter course for the third graders. Then, she put the bite on her competition.

The Williamsport Elementary student charged past classmate Trinity Schlotterbeck in the last 300 yards to finish in 3:58 for a two-second victory in the field of 131 runners.

"I started out of the second row (at the starting line) and I kept passing people," Johnson said. "I knew (Schlotterbeck) was behind me, but I kept running like my dad told me to."

Schlotterbeck tried to rally but ran out of gas.

"I sprinted when we got downhill and ran as fast as I could," she said. "I just got tired in the end."

The victory was a surprise to Johnson.

"I didn't think I would do it," she said. "I'm not used to being a first placer. I'm normally a third-placer or a fifth-placer."

* The "Bullet" proved he was the right caliber.

Potomac Heights' James Searcy lived up to the nickname his teachers gave him by pulling away from the field of 168 runners to run a 3:26 over 800 meters for a seven-second win over Jordan Cross of Lincolnshire Elementary.

"I don't have any idea why I got out front," Searcy said. "I sprinted at the end because I wanted to win bad."

Cross made an attempt to reel in Searcy at the end, but knew it was not going to happen.

"When we were making the final turn, I thought I had a chance to sneak up on him," Cross said. "He saw me coming and he looked like he was saying, "You're not going to catch me.' I'm happy with second, but I thought I could win."

* Keith Hamilton kept the championship in the family.

The Fountain Rock runner eased home in 7:11 to win the 1,600-meter run for fourth-grade boys, which included 116 runners, by 13 seconds.

Hamilton followed in his brother's footsteps with the victory. Timmy Hamilton, who won the third grade title last year, finished 20th Saturday.

"I started out in fourth place and just kept picking up speed," Keith Hamilton said.

Hamilton took the lead at the quarter-mile mark and easily held off Chance Barnhart of Emma K. Doub. The Hamilton brothers get ready for the cross country run with a unique kind of training.

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