Ryan Forsyth and Rhys Burgett routinely push each other in Severna Park practices. They believe that makes both run faster and better.
They took that strategy to Saturday's 62nd annual Spiked Shoe Cross Country Invitational at Wyman Park, and it paid off handsomely. Forsyth won the race, beating runner-up Burgett by seven seconds as the pair outlasted a tough field in the Elite Division and led top-ranked Severna Park to an easy victory.
Forsyth finished the 5K course in 15 minutes, 42 seconds and combined with Burgett to beat out a number of other tough local runners such as Centennial's Alec Font (third, 16:08), Tyler Spear of Loyola (16:10, fourth) and others. The two Severna Park runners stuck together throughout.
"In workouts, we are always back and forth," Forsyth said. "We knew we had to get out really fast because it bottlenecks real early here."
The pair battled Spear in the earlier part of the race and finally broke away from him later on. Together, they proved too tough for the field to match.
"You just have to push through," Burgett said. "When he feels bad, I push him up. When I feel bad, he pushes me up."
The Falcons placed five runners in the top 22. Dillon Cooley (10th), Clay Whitney (21st) and Kevin Hines (22nd) helped Severna Park finish with 54 points, easily beating out Paint Branch (130).
On the girls' side, No. 2 Centennial (53 points) edged out Walter Johnson (57). Catholic's Ellie Gonzalez won in 18:38, five seconds ahead of Isabel Griffith (Dulaney). Shreya Nalubola from Centennial (18:51) took third.
Gonzalez had a special reason for wanting to win this race, one she also captured last year. The senior finished fourth recently at the Seahawk Invitational because she briefly got lost. To ensure that would not happen in this race, Gonzalez came to Wyman Park with a few friends on Thursday and walked the entire course.
She did just fine, taking the lead at about the two-mile mark to finish with a time 43 seconds faster than last year's.
"I worked for every second of it," Gonzalez said. "It was really tough."
Devin McIntyre (eighth), Ally Driscoll (11th), Ilana Harris (14th) and Anna Li (22nd) made up the rest of Centennial's top five as the Eagles scored a hard-earned victory.
"It definitely adds a lot of confidence to our team," Driscoll said. "Having a win like this is really nice."
Spiked Shoe Cross Country Festival
(at Wyman Park)
Team scores (top 5): 1. Severna Park, 54; 2. Paint Branch, 130; 3. Dulaney, 152; 4. Centennial, 167; 5. Walter Johnson, 182.
Individual results (top 10): 1. Forsyth (SPK), 15:42; 2. Burgett (SPK), 15:49; 3. Font (CTL), 16:08; 4. Spear (LOY), 16:10; 5. Bezerahno (WJ), 16:16; 6. Musselman (SR), 16:18; 7. Singer (MCD), 16:19; 8. Mead (CTY), 16:19; 9. Kosogof (WJ), 16:21; 10. Cooley (SPK), 16:24.
Team scores (top 5): 1. Centennial, 53; 2. Walter Johnson, 57; 3. Calvert, 126; 4. Wootton, 144; 5. (tie) Century, Severna Park, 148.
Individual results: 1. Gonzalez (CAT), 18:38; 2. Griffith (DUL), 18:43; 3. Nalubola (CTL), 18:51; 4. Keller (WJ), 19:24; 5. Willingmyre (WIL), 19:38; 6. Kachik (CTY), 19:42; 7. Bukharin (WJ), 19:45; 8. McIntyre (CTL), 19:46; 9. Aris (CAL), 19:56; 10. Wagner (SR), 20:02.