If there were surprises in the ninth annual UCBAC Cross-Country Championships at Elkton Oct. 24, it wasn't in who won. It was in their margins of victory.
North Harford's Nick Fransham outran co-favorite Ty Franks of Bo Manor by 43 seconds to win the boys' race. Fallston's Nicole Wohlfort beat defending champ Megan Tidey by 24 seconds in the girls' race. C. Milton Wright put five runners in the top eight to run away with the girls' team title and the North Harford boys won handily by 29 points over Edgewood.
Fransham was the only repeat winner of the meet, held on the scenic but wind-blown 5K course at Fair Hill. He was not expected to win easily, or even to win at all. He and Franks ran elbow to elbow through the first half of the race before Fransham opened a lead. By the time they emerged from the wooded section of the course, Fransham had an insurmountable lead. He reached the finish line all alone in 15:41. Franks ran 16:24. Bo Manor's Chandler Brooks took third in 16:59.
Last year, North Harford lost to Bo Manor by just three points. This time the Hawks – with six of their top seven runners returning – made victory certain. Calen Dowley finished sixth in 17:08; Chris Busick, 15th in 17:47; Justin Asch, 16th in 17:48; and Patrick O'Leary, 20th in 17:53 to win their first boys' conference title in 31 years.
Edgewood, which last won a conference meet in 1970, put four runners in the top 20 to finish second. Michael Dzambasow placed fourth in 17:03; Dan Gorski, 11th in 17:24; Langston Gash, 17th in 17:50; and David Dzambasow, 18th in 17:50.
The CMW boys took third place with three in the top 20: Max Anderson, fifth, 17:05; Brad Ensor, 13th, 17:41; and Eric Jadge, 14th, 17:44.
Ethan Britto finished 22nd in 17:57 to lead Bel Air to sixth place among the 13 complete boys' teams. Fallston was seventh behind its leader Noah Kudla, who placed 12th in 17:38. Patterson Mill finished eighth with Aaron Smith leading the Huskies at ninth place in 17:19.
Billy Morris took seventh in the 91-runner field in 17:09. His Aberdeen team placed 11th. Perryville was the top Cecil County boys' team at fourth place. Adam Thornton, 17:10, and Caleb Stevens, 17:20, placed eighth and 10th, respectively.
CMW girls' depth, Wohlfort's late speed prevail
In the girls' race, Wohlfort and Tidey ran side by side, far ahead of the pack for the first two miles. The Fallston junior then began to pull away as the course entered the woods. By the time she emerged, Wohlfort held a lead of 30 meters which she widened to 100 meters over the long final straightaway into a stiff wind. She finished in 19:54 to give Fallston its first conference winner since 1990.
The CMW girls displayed exceptional depth, placing all five scorers in the top 10, even without their usual No. 1 runner, Taylor Walker, who was idled by injury. Miriam Silton finished third in 20:48, Kelley O'Neill, fifth, 21:00, Abby Fleming, sixth, 21:15; Pam Koga, seventh, 21:16; and Emma Martin, eighth, 21:21 – a one-to-five spread of just 33 seconds. The win gave the CMW girls their sixth UCBAC team title and their 19th conference title of the last 23 years.
North Harford, the defending girls' team champion, placed five runners in the top 15 to finish second with 42 points. Behind Tidey, Logan Furness took fourth in 20:48; Regan Davis, 10th, 21:26; Valerie Taylor, 12th in 21:46; and Morgan DiGiorgio, 14th in 22:04.
Bel Air, with Emily League 11th in 21:43 and Megan Thompson, 13th in 21:58, placed third. Fallston finished fourth, with its no. 2 runner Sophie Kudla placing 25th in 22:38. Perryville, led by 2011 champ Jordan Dodson at ninth, placed fifth in the field of nine complete girls teams. Patterson Mill finished seventh, led by Samantha Herman at 15th in 22:07. Edgewood was ninth, with team leader Rachel Goldsborough 18th in 22:18.