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Williamsport boys 'won't be a surprise this year'

August 31, 2010|By ANDREW MASON
  • Amanda Martin, North Hagerstown
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Last fall was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Williamsport boys cross country team. So it was somewhat surprising that the Wildcats ended up being champions of Washington County, the MVAL Antietam Conference and the Maryland Class 1A West region. They also finished third at states.

"We won't be a surprise this year," Williamsport coach Randy Buchman said.

That's for sure.

The Wildcats return five of their top seven boys from last year, led by junior Evan Hardy, who placed third at last fall's state meet. Senior Graylon Wright and sophomore Cody Bowman also scored at states last season for Williamsport.

The Wildcats also have two key newcomers -- sophomores Cody Grams and Scott Long. Grams was the No. 4 runner for West Virginia Class AAA state runner-up Jefferson last year, while Long showed potential on the track after playing soccer last fall.

"We have a lot of strong runners and a lot of runners who improved a lot this summer," Buchman said. "We've got some horses, and we've got some depth. This could be fun, it really could."

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With 30 boys and 37 girls, Williamsport has the largest program in the county.

The girls return five of their top seven runners from last year's team that placed fifth in the county, including junior Elisabeth Strite, the Wildcats' top runner last season.

"We hope to build on last year and develop new talent," Buchman said. "We have 16 freshman girls."

Boonsboro

The boys, who finished second to Williamsport at last year's county meet, are aiming for the victory this year.

"They want to win states. The first step is beating Williamsport," coach Becky Walter said. "I think it's very possible."

The Warriors return six of their top seven runners from last season, led by senior Evan Moser, who was the county runner-up last fall to then-senior David Wilson of Smithsburg.

Expect another battle of the Evans (Moser vs. Hardy) at the front of pack this year.

"(Moser) is looking good," Walter said. "He ran over the summer for the first time, really. It will be interesting to see how he does now. He's a senior, and this is his last shot. He's pretty motivated."

The girls return their entire varsity lineup from last year's team that placed fourth at counties.

"The first day of practice we ran a time trial on the course and every single girl ran faster than last year, some of them minutes faster," Walter said. "So it looks like we should have a decent team."

Sophomore Sarah Zielinski is leading the way.

"Sarah's goal is to win counties on her home course this year," Walter said.

North Hagerstown

The girls only return three varsity runners from last year's team that won county and MVAL Antietam titles on their way to a third-place finish at the Class 2A state championships.

Warning: Don't count out the Hubs.

Front runners Emily Simmons and Amanda Martin, both juniors, are back, as are Ashley Seiler, the team's lone senior, and sophomore Caroline Wills, who was out most of last season with a calf injury. And coach Lindsay Zerance said newcomers Anna Compton, a sophomore, and Brittany Appleby, a freshman, are both "looking really good."

"I'm excited," Zerance said. "I have a really, really good pack going, which is crucial.

"We're just going to train hard and hopefully peak at the right moment. We're hoping to be in the top three again at states."

The boys return five of their top seven runners from last year's team that placed fifth at counties.

"The only way is up from here," Zerance said.

Tyler Smith, the Hubs' top runner last fall, is the lone senior. He finished 13th at last year's county meet.

"He's definitely made a 180-degree turnaround. He's serious this year, he has passion," Zerance said. "I'm excited to see him race."

Smithsburg

The girls return four of their top seven runners from last year's team that won the Class 1A West region title and was a distant runner-up to Bohemia Manor at states.

Unfortunately for the Leopards, Bohemia Manor returns six of its top seven.

"Our goal is to win the state title," coach Ray Shriver said. "But we know Bo Manor is really, really tough. But you never know what will happen. If they do something and falter, we want to be right there to take advantage."

The four varsity returnees are junior Lauren Johnson -- the county runner-up last fall to then-senior Alison Harrell of North -- seniors Lyndsie Delosier and Suzanne Reed and junior Taylor Cline.

"Those four did a lot of running over the summer and are ready to rock and roll," Shriver said. "Hopefully we're going to be able to find a pretty good No. 5."

The boys lost four of their top seven from last year's third-place county team, including superstar David Wilson, who capped his undefeated senior season last fall by running away with the state title.

Shriver said senior Nick Tilden, the team's No. 3 runner last year, is "stepping up at practices and trying to fill the role as No. 1 runner.

"He's trying to stake his claim to that, and I think he'll do that. But we have a couple guys who I think will challenge him."

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