WINFIELD — Woodrow Kashima played soccer during his freshman year at Liberty High School, but took a chance on trying out for the boys cross country team as a sophomore and helped lead the Lions to their share of success.
The Lions repeated as county, regional, and state champions for a fourth straight season last fall, and captured their fourth straight county meet title Thursday by placing five athletes in the top 10.
Kashima won the meet in 17 minutes, 21.7 seconds, edging Century’s Hayden Hebert by two seconds.
The Lions raced against South Carroll and Francis Scott Key in a tri-meet last week at the Cavaliers’ course, and Kashima finished second to SC’s John Kettula. He said it gave the Lions a good feeling of what they could expect for this week’s county meet.
“They all went out pretty fast and I was pretty far behind in the woods,” Kashima said. “I knew I could get [Hebert] if it came down to a sprint so I kind of hung back. Up at the softball field, I knew that I really wanted to put a huge push in so that’s where I caught up and passed John there. I didn’t go super hard on the hills, I kind of maintained my speed.
“In the woods, I took the lead and started to open up, but Hayden got back up on me. I just waited until the end because in a sprint, I knew I could hopefully have the upper hand.”
Kettula finished third in 17:43.4, following by Liberty’s Trent Taylor and Connor Stewart, Francis Scott Key’s Cole LaPierre, South Carroll’s Brendan Cave, Liberty’s Gavin Edson and Jake Lucas, and South Carroll’s Benjamin Lausch rounded out the top 10.
Liberty won with 27 points, South Carroll was second with 61, and Century was third with 68.
Kashima was the Lions’ fifth individual county champion in six seasons. Daniel Saxon won the race in 2017 and 2018, Nick Tilson in 2016, and Chad Sussman in 2014.
“It’s all the coaches [Dan Jones and Pete Lester], they know what they’re doing and they just … it’s what they do,” Kashima said. “They have some way to get us all fast … They know what they’re doing so all the credit goes to them.”
South Carroll junior Grace Siehler won the girls individual county title Thursday, crossing the finish line 35 seconds before Winters Mill junior Kathryn Hopkins. The Cavaliers finished second as a team with 55 points, behind champion Liberty with 32.
“I feel good,” Siehler said. “It’s a really tough course, probably one of the hardest ones this season, so I think you kind of have to run it a different way and focus on the hills more.”
Manchester Valley sophomore Rubie Goffena, the 2018 Times Runner of the Year and last year’s county champ, finished third in 21:18.9, followed by a pack of four Liberty athletes — Izzy Lucas, Sammie Spargo, Julia Lucas, and Jenna Zietowski.
The Lions’ girls squad placed five runners in the top 10 to capture their fourth county title in eight years.
SC junior Kate Yokay placed eighth, Century freshman Allison Leimkuhler came in ninth, and Christian Lemaster, a Lions senior, finished 10th.
Siehler has won all but one of her races this fall, and said the Cavaliers put in a lot of work over the summer to prepare for this season.
“I’m super proud of my team this year,” Siehler said. ‘We’ve really stepped it up … With cross country, all the work is put in over the summer so I’m super proud of my team and I don’t know if we performed as best as we thought we could today, but you always have those days.
“I think we really bonded this year as a team and we haven’t had many injuries, so that’s a plus.”
BOYS TEAM SCORES
Carroll County Daily Headlines
1. Liberty 27; 2. South Carroll 61; 3. Century 68; 4. Winters Mill 127; 5. Westminster 130; 6. Manchester Valley 137; 7. Francis Scott Key 183.
TOP 10 BOYS
1. Woodrow Kashima (Liberty) 17:21.7; 2. Hayden Hebert (Century) 17:23. 7; 3. John Kettula (South Carroll) 17:43.4; 4. Trent Taylor (Liberty) 17:59.4; 5. Connor Stewart (Liberty) 18:06.2; 6. Cole LaPierre (Francis Scott Key) 18:09.0; 7. Brendan Cave (South Carroll) 18:12. 4; 8. Gavin Edson (Liberty) 18:14.9; 9. Jake Lucas (Liberty) 18:36.3; 10. Benjamin Lausch (South Carroll) 18:45.4.
GIRLS TEAM SCORES
1. Liberty 32; 2. South Carroll 55; 3. Century 90; 4. Westminster 94; 5. Winters Mill 127; 6. Manchester Valley 131; 7. Francis Scott Key 180.
TOP 10 GIRLS
1. Grace Siehler (South Carrol) 20:23.4; 2. Kathryn Hopkins (Winters Mill) 20:58.5; 3. Rubie Goffena (Manchester Valley) 21:18.9; 4. Izzy Lucas (Liberty) 21:29.8; 5. Sammie Spargo (Liberty) 21:33.4; 6. Julia Lucas (Liberty) 21:45.9; 7. Jenna Zietowski (Liberty) 21:56.6; 8. Kate Yokay (South Carroll) 22:17.2; 9. Allison Leimkuhler (Century) 22:31.3; 10. Christian Lemaster (Liberty) 22:39.9.