McDonogh girls run away with A Conference cross country championship

The start of the 2014 IAAM Girls Cross Country championship at Oregon Ridge Park.
The start of the 2014 IAAM Girls Cross Country championship at Oregon Ridge Park. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)
Top-ranked McDonogh left little doubt that its undefeated Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference regular season would bode well for a stellar showing in the league championship meet Wednesday afternoon at Oregon Ridge Park.
The Eagles (34 points) won going away, beating second-place Notre Dame Prep (99) by a whopping 65 points in an impressive showing for coach Jeff Sanborn's group that placed five runners among the first 13 finishers.
"By the third day of practice this summer, we had eight girls running 8 miles each," Sanborn said about claiming the program's first title since 2010. "That's when I really thought we had something. That had never been done before at our school."
Junior Taylor Hare (third, 19:27) was McDonogh's top finisher, crossing the finish line well behind individual champion Sophie Gitlin (18:37) of Bryn Mawr and runner-up Emily Craig (19:18) of Maryvale.
Sanborn said that McDonogh senior Maggie Seybold (fifth, 19:51) attempted to keep pace with the fleet Gitlin for the first half of the race before falling back.
"I told Maggie to after her," Sanborn said. "But at 1.5 miles, it was over."
Gitlin did not quite post the same time — a course-record 17:59 — that three-time IAAM champ Ellie Gonzalez did for Catholic High three years ago, but the talented freshman still ran away from the field with apparent ease.
"I wanted to go out fast and run a sub-6 (-minute mile) and then hope for the best," she said about running on the Mawrtians' hilly home course in Cockeysville. "Our coach always tells us that the first mile is about (using your) head, the second about legs and the third about heart."
Gitlin said that the footsteps "kept getting fainter" behind her as she pulled away at the halfway mark, exceeding her personal-best time this season by 15 seconds.
Senior captain Noemie Noellet (sixth, 19:53) said that the Eagles have been building toward their ultimate goal for a few years.
"I was nervous because of expectations," she said. "But we were just so good this season and we had such great communication between all of us. We started as freshman on the team and then accumulated a lot of girls along the way who are runners, not just girls trying to stay in shape for other sports."
Junior Avery Hoelting (seventh, 19:55) and senior Sophia Rosman (13th, 20:14) were McDonogh's other top finishers.
Sophomore Amy Egan (fourth, 19:35) was the only other Bryn Mawr runner in the top 20, although senior Sophie Trikeriotis (21st, 20:50) was close.
None of Notre Dame Prep's runners threatened to break into the top 10, but the Blazers bunched five finishers from 15th (Abby Potter) to 27th place (Mary Moynihan) to finish second. Bryn Mawr was third and Mount de Sales fourth.
In the B Conference, Severn held off Garrison Forest and St. Paul's School for Girls in the team chase. Roland Park was fourth.
Annapolis Area Christian School's Julia Schaeffer (20:10) won the B individual title.
Oldfields captured C Conference honors, earning the school's first cross country crown. Rachael Hughen (20:48) was first in the C race.

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