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Prep Cross Country: Warriors, Wildcats have state title dreams

November 08, 2012|By ANDREW MASON | andrewm@herald-mail.com

For the Boonsboro girls, it’s been since 1995. For the Williamsport boys, it’s been even longer — 1975. And for the Boonsboro boys, it’s never happened at all.

But they all have reason to believe that the title runs will happen for them Saturday, as they try to capture the elusive team crowns at the Maryland State Cross Country Championships on Hereford High School’s infamously hilly 3-mile course.

Boonsboro, which will compete in Class 1A, will try to become the first Washington County school to win both girls and boys titles in the same year. The Warriors swept the West region titles last week at Smithsburg.

The Boonsboro girls finished second last year as Bohemia Manor rolled to another state title.

“Bohemia Manor has won the last four years straight, but they don’t have the depth they’ve had in the past,” Boonsboro coach Becky Walter said.

She said she expects the biggest challenge to come from Manchester Valley, which finished second to her girls at last week’s region meet.

Walter knows one thing for sure: Her girls are ready.

“The girls look really good,” she said. “They’ve been working very hard, and they’re prepared for it. I’m excited, looking forward to it.”

The Boonsboro girls are led by senior Sarah Zielinski, who’s won four state titles on the track, but is still chasing her first in cross country — the ultimate title in high school distance running.

“Cross country is really where all that hard work and mileage pays off,” Walter said. “Sarah definitely wants it.”

Zielinski was the state runner-up last fall to Perryville’s Jordan Dodson. While Dodson will be back to defend Saturday, she doesn’t seem to be in the top form she was in last year, judging by recent results.

The Boonsboro boys have improved significantly from last year, when they finished eighth at states. But Bohemia Manor, which also won the boys title last year, is still the team to beat.

“The boys have been fun to watch all season, just so many of them coming along in the pack and improving each week,” Walter said. “I like their chances, but Bohemia Manor is going to be tough. It’s going to come down to who’s more prepared for hills and who wants to be tougher that day.”

The Warriors also have an individual title contender in junior Sean Snyder, who won the region race last week.

In Class 2A, the Williamsport boys looked like the team to beat at states — until last week, when they finished a close second to Catoctin at the West region meet at Middletown.

“Everybody’s still kind of looking at each other like ‘What happened?’” said Williamsport coach Randy Buchman, whose boys had defeated Catoctin four times this season. “But we’re not talking about that too much.”

The Wildcats, who are five-time reigning county champions, probably still are the favorites. Of their seven runners set to race Saturday, six were on last year’s state team that finished second. Experience counts at states, especially on the Hereford hills.

“The boys seem excited to go do it, to go take it,” Buchman said. “I think we’ll have a good day. If Catoctin has a better day, I think they deserve to win.”

In Class 3A, North Hagerstown junior Emily Ward is hoping to improve on last year’s finish at states. And there’s not much room for improvement as she was fourth.

“Top three would be amazing, and I would love, love, love to see her get top two,” North coach Lindsay Zerance said. “That would just be icing on the cake for this season.”

At last week’s West region meet in Clarksburg, Ward finished a distant second to Urbana’s Emily Mulhern, the defending state champ. But she defeated Urbana’s Sarah Askine, who was third at states last year.

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