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Prep notebook: Wildcats boys XC team holding its own wherever it competes

September 20, 2012

Cross Country

The Williamsport boys spent the first two Saturdays of the season proving that they can hold their own in Maryland, winning a team title at Clear Spring’s Interstate Classic and then earning a runner-up finish at the Brunswick Invitational.

This past Saturday, the Wildcats proved they also can more than hold their own in Pennsylvania, winning a team title at the 17th annual Bulldog Invitational at Big Spring High School in Newville.

There were 44 schools represented in the race. While the Wildcats were awarded the ‘AAA’ (big-school) title, after the results were divided for three separate divisions, they would have won the whole thing had it been scored without divisions.

“We were really excited to win,” Williamsport coach Randy Buchman said. “But I still don’t feel like we’re running our best. There’s still so much to work on.”

Senior Cody Bowman led the way, placing fourth overall (second in his division) in the field of 255 boys with a time of 17:06.9 for the 3.1 miles. Ninety seconds later, the Wildcats’ seventh runner finished, as their entire varsity squad was well within the top third of the race.

“We just outnumber people with the seven people we throw out there,” said Buchman of his formidable pack. “Our sixth and seventh guys would be the fourth and fifth guys on a lot of decent teams. And there’s still a lot of tightening to do.”

Williamsport currently is ranked as the No. 11 boys team in Maryland, of all classifications, public and private, by RunningMaryland.com.

The Wildcats, who are No. 1 among Class 2A teams, haven’t won a state title since 1975.

“We’re going to need to be sharper because somebody is going to rise up,” Buchman said.

This Saturday, they’ll get to tackle the infamously hilly course they’ll run at states on Nov. 10 when they compete in the “elite race” at the Bull Run Invitational at Hereford High School.

“It will be interesting to see how we do. We’ll be running against a lot of good schools,” Buchman said. “We’re not going to win this Saturday, but we’re not going to embarrass ourselves. The more experience you can get on that course, the better.”

* Two other Washington County teams are in RunningMaryland.com’s Top 25 overall state rankings. St. Maria Goretti is No. 12 among boys, while Boonsboro is No. 20 among girls.

Volleyball

Just seven months after having surgery to repair a torn ACL, and with a whole new cast of players surrounding her, Heritage Academy senior Kara Stamper is leading the way as the Eagles continue to dominate the Mason Dixon Christian Conference.

Stamper, named an All-American by the National Association of Christian Schools after her junior season, is showing no ill effects from her knee injury and surgery. Through eight matches — all victories — Stamper is averaging 6.44 kills, 0.93 aces, 0.89 blocks and 3.00 digs per set.

This was supposed to be a trying season for the Eagles. Stamper is the only starter back from last season, and after injuring her knee at the end of the 2011-12 basketball season on Feb. 28, there was doubt if she would be healthy in time for at least the beginning of the volleyball season.

That doubt has been put to rest, and questions about the new starters surrounding her also are being positively answered.

Sophomore Christi Jackson is averaging 1.88 kills and 0.67 blocks per set to give Heritage another front-row weapon when Stamper is in the back row. Chloe Prejean — the starting setter as an eighth-grader — is averaging 6.48 assists, 2.07 digs and 0.81 aces per set. Sisters Nicole Gaylor, a junior averaging 4.46 digs per set, and Hannah Gaylor, a sophomore averaging 2.15 digs per set, have been standouts defensively.

Through Wednesday, Heritage has won 45 straight best-of-5-set matches, 42 of them coming in MDCC regular-season or tournament play. In all play since the start of the 2010 season, the Eagles’ only two losses came at last year’s NACA national tournament in best-of-3 play.

The Eagles should still have a couple stiff MDCC tests. Both Cumberland Valley Christian (6-1) and New Life Christian managed to take a set from Heritage in the first go-round across conference play.

* Williamsport is off to another sizzling start, sweeping all five of its matches through Wednesday to surge to the top of the MVAL Antietam.

The Wildcats scored an important early-season victory with their sweep of Smithsburg (4-1) on Sept. 11. Other pivotal Antietam matches await against North Hagerstown (2-1, 1-0), Catoctin (3-1, 2-0) and Boonsboro (2-2, 1-1) — all of which appear capable of making a challenge.

Golf

Black Rock Golf Course will be a busy host next week to prep golfers.

On Monday, the Maryland Class 3A/4A District 1 tournament will be played. Then on Tuesday, players will battle in the 1A/2A District 1 tournament hoping to to qualify for the state tournament.

On Thursday, the Washington County Public Schools championship will be contested.

North Hagerstown senior Aaron Staley hopes to lead the Hubs as a team to states. A year ago, North missed as a team, but this year the Hubs have experience in Chad Shindle and Drew Miguel along with Staley.

Staley qualifield for states in each of his first three years.

Among the 1A/2A county hopefuls, Smithsburg’s Kyle Huntzberry is the only golfer who qualified last year.

However, Williamsport is hoping to make a team challenge this season.

The state tournament is scheduled for Oct. 22-24 at University of Maryland.

* In the county public schools tournament last season, Huntzberry and Staley shared medalist honors in regulation before Huntzberry won on the second playoff hole. North Hagerstown won the team title.

Soccer

The championship games of the Washington County Public Schools Tournaments will be held at South Hagerstown on Oct. 13.

It will be Clear Spring vs. North Hagerstown in the boys final at 1 p.m., followed by Boonsboro vs. Williamsport in the girls final at 3.

— Assistant sports editor Andrew Mason and staff writers Daniel Kauffman and Tim Koelble contributed to this notebook.

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