Prep Cross Country: Zielinski, Warriors boys and girls teams win state titles

November 10, 2012|By ANDREW MASON |
  • Boonsboro senior Sarah Zielinski leads the pack early in the Class 1A girls race en route to the state title at the Maryland State Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Hereford High School. Zielinski helped the Warriors win the team title.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

PARKTON, Md. — Simply put, it was Boonsboro’s day Saturday at the Maryland State Cross Country Championships at Hereford High School.

Senior Sarah Zielinski won an individual title, and the Warriors swept the boys and girls team titles in Class 1A, conquering the hilly 3-mile course and everyone in their way.

“What a day,” said Boonsboro coach Becky Walter. “It ended the way we hoped it would end, and it doesn’t happen very often like that.”

It’s never happened quite like that for the Warriors — or any other cross country program in Washington County.

For the Boonsboro girls, it was their sixth state title and first since 1995, while it was the first state title for the boys, as the Warriors became the first school in county history to win both boys and girls team titles in the same year.

“It’s just great to see all of their hard work pay off, and all of the times they ran up South Mountain pay off,” Walter said. “I couldn’t ask for a better, more hard-working group.”

Zielinski took control of the girls race a mile into it, opening a gap that continued to grow on her way to the victory in 19:48.6. Manchester Valley’s Abby Culp finished a distant second in 20:19.1.

“After the mile, I just took off,” said Zielinski, who became the county’s first girls champion since Ashley Lockard won her second straight title for Clear Spring in 2004. “It was time to take it and really start moving.”

While Zielinski has won four individual state titles on the track, this was her first in cross country. She said she was motivated by her disappointing second-place finish at states last fall.

“That just made me work harder this summer and throughout the whole season,” she said.

Zielinski showed off her level of fitness Saturday — and looked no worse for the wear when it was over.

“I honestly feel like I could go run it again,” she said minutes after finishing.

The Boonsboro girls had three other top-10 finishers — Kortney Cunningham (fifth, 21:12.1), Samantha Smith (sixth, 2:12.9) and Ella Hawkins (ninth, 21:36.4). Jenny Moore placed 26th (23:01.0) to compete their scoring as Boonsboro finished with 45 points — 20 fewer than runner-up Manchester Valley in the 12-team field. Mountain Ridge was third (96).

The Boonsboro boys’ victory was about as close as it comes as they edged Bohemia Manor 69-70 for the title, while Perryville was third (81) in the 15-team field.

“Nothing’s assured,” Walter said, “but we thought the girls would win, but the boys we knew would be a battle.”

Junior Sean Snyder led the Boonsboro boys, placing third in 17:25.5.

“We came so far,” said Snyder, who led the Warriors to an eighth-place team finish last year at states. “We’ve been trying for this for two years, pouring our hearts into it.

“I’m happy with my time, happy with my place and just so happy for the team, both guys and girls. I’m just so happy right now. Thank you, God! I’m just unbelievably happy.”

The Warriors got the rest of their scoring from Josh Testa (ninth, 17:46.0), Otto Solberg (11th, 17:51.8), Nick Zielinski (15th, 18:17.0) and Alex Thaggard (31st, 18:55.7).

The significance of every place and point was magnified in a team battle that close. Had Testa not edged out Mountain Ridge’s Rhett Poland by one-tenth of a second for ninth place or had Nick Zielinski (who was barely in the top 50 at the mile) not squeaked by Pikesville’s Menelik Solomon by mere hundredths of a second for 15th, Bohemia Manor probably would have been celebrating a second straight state title and fourth in five years.

“They knew what they needed to do and fought right down to the line,” Walter said. “To beat a team like Bohemia Manor, you know you’re competing against a team that knows this course and knows what to do.”

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