Mulhern and Bullen Hold Off Late Charges
Those who watched Urbana High School's Emily Mulhern run at the Frederick County and 3A West Regional Championships saw her claim landslide victories. The real question was: How would she stack up against the top runners from Howard County and the ever-competitive Hereford contingent at States?
Mulhern asserted an early lead, only a few meters in front of Allison Krein, Shreya Nalubola, Erin Causey, Megan Anderson, and Rachel Yep. As they crossed the first mile marker, the clock read 6:19, and Mulhern, cognizant of the chase pack breathing down her neck, knew that should would have to make a move soon.
"I had to work the downhills," said the Urbana sophomore. "I'm better on flatter courses, so I made sure to keep the pace contained for the first mile."
Striding up the Dip, she increased her lead by a few seconds, still maintaining her composure. Emerging from the backstop with a look of confidence, the sophomore claimed the 3A championship in a time of 19:20. Some seconds behind her was Krein of River Hill and Nalubola of Centennial. Megan Anderson of Hereford, who was running with the lead group, did not finish the race, dashing Hereford's hopes at finishing in the top 3.
"It hasn't been the luckiest year for us," noted Hereford Coach John Roemer. "But that's the way it is."
It was Reservoir High who proved themselves to be "queens of the hill." With only a 28-second differential from leader runner Amy Oliver to fifth runner Heather Konstanzer, the Lady Gators proved that pack tactics work best. Accruing 65 team points, they eked out the win over Centennial--paced by Nalubola--who finished with 73.
Arguably, the most intriguing race took place in this division...for several reasons. Jon Luckin led teammate Julian Rivera, Patrick Duboyce of Linganore and Howard's Danny Rau through the first mile in 5:11.
"I knew there were going to be a lot of runners pushing the pace, so I wanted to stay controlled" said Julian Rivera. "But it's my last state meet so I went for it. I knew my teammates would have my back if faltered.
Went for it, indeed. The Hereford senior was in the lead for the elites' final encounter with the Dip, though countenance of fatigue was signal for Harry Bullen and Patrick Duboyce to take over.
Bullen had a slight lead over Duboyce in the last couple hundred meters, and Danny Rau, Jon Luckin, and Linganore's #2 man Dan Beck were in hot pursuit. As runners emerged from behind the backstop, Harry Bullen made his final charge to secure the individual gold (16:19). Rau second (16:20). Luckin (16:22) and Rivera (16:28) third and fourth respectively.
Duboyce did not emerge until 3 minutes later after collapsing with less than a quarter mile to go. Though dejected by the outcome of the race, Linganore Coach Andy Wright didn't hesitate to acknowledge the bright sides of the race.
"We saw a whole new Dan Beck today," he said, referring to his #2 man, who finished fifth in 16:30. "He asserted himself as one of the best in the state today. I'm very proud of him."
As for Duboyce, it was evident to Coach Wright now more than ever that his top runner is a fighter.
"He has a champion attitude. Despite not feeling 100%, he gave it his all. That's all a coach can ask for."
The 3A team trophies were not carried far, as the Bulls captured team championship honors on their home course. Kevin Payne, Kevin Collins, and Gabe Rivera finished within a finger's snap of each other, placing 15th, 16th, and 19th.
"It feels great to have such a good group of guys," remarked Senior Jon Luckin. "We worked hard for this and we got it done when it counted."