CLEAR SPRING — Sarah Zielinski successfully defended her small-school girls title with a big-time performance Saturday at the season-opening Interstate Classic cross country invitational.
The Boonsboro junior covered Clear Spring’s 3-mile course in 19 minutes, 10.6 seconds — more than 2 minutes faster than her winning time last year.
“I trained harder over the summer,” Zielinski said. “I ran more mileage.”
Smithsburg senior Lauren Johnson finished nearly a minute behind her Saturday in 20:08.3, placing second for the second straight year.
“(Johnson) was ahead of me for like the first 400 meters,” Zielinski said. “And then I passed her and that was it.”
Zielinski said she wished she could have competed in the large-school girls race that followed hers.
“I always want to be in that race,” she said. “It’s so much more competitive.”
In that race, Kaitlyn Workman of team-champion Preston, edged Richard Montgomery’s Elena De La Paz by two-tenths of a second to win in 19:15.5 — 5 seconds slower than Zielsinki’s winning time.
Zielinski’s teammates also held their own in the small-school girls race. The Warriors got another top-10 finish from Katie Rickerds (sixth, 22:14) and held off Williamsport by a point, 59-60, to win the team title.
“That’s a great start to the season. I’m thrilled,” Boonsboro coach Becky Walter said. “Williamsport is a lot better than I thought. It will be a fun season, battling back and forth.”
The Wildcats had a trio of top-10 finishers — Meggan Grams (third, 21:30.9), Allie Hott (fourth, 21:40.1) and Alex Henry (eighth, 22:49.1).
North Hagerstown finished seventh out of 14 teams in the large-school girls race. Emily Ward placed 10th (20:36.5) and Emily Simmons was 11th (20:53.5) to pace the Hubs.
· As expected, Evan Hardy and his Williamsport teammates dominated the small-school boys race for the second straight year, capturing four of the top six places and winning the team title with a mere 25 points. Southern Garrett was second with 98.
Hardy began his senior year with a convincing victory in 16:00.5. After him, Wildcats Cody Bowman (16:52.6), Emory Rowland (17:15.8) and Cody Grams (17:23.1) swept places fourth through sixth.
“We trained hard this summer, and we really wanted to start off the season well,” said Hardy, who built up to 80 miles a week in his summer training. “I’m just learning how to run with this much endurance.”
Smithsburg’s Luke Daigneault was the runner-up in 16:36.5, and Broadfording Christian Academy’s Daniel Christiansen was third in 16:46.1.
Who knew Broadfording even had a cross country program?
“About two or three weeks ago, someone asked about it, and I volunteered,” said Broadfording coach Bill Pifer, who had only one boy and one girl competing Saturday. “We have about six other runners. They just couldn’t be here today.”
St. Maria Goretti, in its second year as a program, got a 10th-place finish from Mitch Swope (17:41.7).
Jefferson senior Eric Graf won the large-school boys race in a course-record time of 15:40.2, leading the Cougars to their second straight team title. The previous record of 15:45 was set last year by then-senior Brandon Doughty, also of Jefferson.
South Hagerstown’s Bryan Durboraw placed ninth in 16:38.3.