Underclassmen Take Top Spots for the Ladies, While Bertrand Leads From Start to Finish
Every State Championship meet is defined by the sure shots, the underdogs, and the performances and occurrences that leave fans saying, "I didn't see that coming at all."
A departure from "unseasonably cold" conditions and a return to (arguably) perfect cross country weather resulted in an optimal day for the Maryland State Cross Country Championships at Hereford High School. As always, Running Maryland was on-site to document the good, the bad, and the completely unexpected.
Still reeling off of 1-2 finishes at the Montgomery County Championships and the 4A West Regional Championships, the indomitable duo of Nora McUmber and Caroline Beakes were expected to lead the B-CC pack to the state title.
As expected they came, saw, and conquered.
After a fairly conservative 6:22 mile, a lead pack comprised of the B-CC tandem, Sophie El-Masry, Isabel Griffith, and Lucy Srour advanced to descend the Dip. In this race, the real action took place in the less visible portions of the course.
"Caroline and Nora made a move in the soccer field (~1.5 mile marker)," said Richard Montgomery Freshman Sophie El-Masry, who has put herself on the map as one of Maryland's top runners in her very first season of cross country. "My coach told me to hang with the leaders, but not to take the lead. I knew I had to go with them in the back side of the course.
Impressive instincts for a frosh swimmer-turned-runner.
It was Beakes, a sophomore, who stormed up the Dip first, with only a slight lead in front of her teammate and the precocious freshman. She extended her lead to a comfortable margin and clinched the individual title with a finishing time of 19:17.
"I didn't expect this today," said the humble champion. "I can't believe it."
El-Masry (19:23), the runner-up, staved off McCumber, who finished in bronze position (19:28) by only a few seconds. Sound tactics from a runner who made her Hereford debutâ€¦this morning.
"Oh, it was a difficult course," she admitted with a sheepish laugh.
Isabel Griffith from Dulaney finished fourth, and Lucy Srour of Winston Churchill finished fifth.
B-CC won the team trophy, tallying 67 points. Quince Orchard finished second with 103 points.
Running aficionados would be reluctant to place their money on an athlete who is "trying cross country for the first time." Regarding the state title,they would be likely to place their bets on Clarksburg Senior Will Bertrand--the Bull Run Large Schools Champion, Coyote Invitational Champion, and 4A West Regional champ.
Little do some people know that Bertrand is a newcomer to cross country running. If you didn't know that before, you probably wouldn't have gathered that by watching him run on Saturday morning.
Amid some a more-than-respectable pool of talent, the Clarksburg senior rolled by the mile marker in 5 minutes and 12 seconds, an honest pace. Ryan Forsyth, Vince Ciattei, and Josh Trzeciak set the pace in the early stages of the race.
"I wanted to keep that first mile relaxed," said Bertrand. "There has been a bad history for those who lead at the mile marker at States. I made a move on the hill after the soccer field."
Ascending the Dip with a sizable lead, he began to execute one final surge before in the last several hundred meters. Unbeknownst to him as he was coming around the backstop, breaking the 16-minute barrier was a distinct possibility. Unleashing a finishing kick, he stared the clock down as he crossed the finish line. 16:02.7--the third fastest time in the history of meet, according to the officials at the award ceremony.
Fans anticipated the 4A State crown to be a duel between two teams with very impressive spreads. Severna Park, who has benefitted this season from the leadership of Ryan Forsyth and Jimmy Shipley, went toe-to-toe with Walter Johnson squad--who has executed a 1-5 spread of less than 20 seconds at various meets throughout the year.
Forsyth (2nd - 16:27) and Shipley (4th - 16:40) set the pace for Severna Park, who placed three runners under 17:00 and 5 runners in the top 20. Severna Park finished with 47 points. Walter Johnson: 93.