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A trio of Liberty runners, from left, Julia Lucas, Izzy Lucas and Sammie Spargo, run together in the Class 2A girls race during the MPSSAA State Cross Country Championships at Hereford High School on Saturday, November 9.
A trio of Liberty runners, from left, Julia Lucas, Izzy Lucas and Sammie Spargo, run together in the Class 2A girls race during the MPSSAA State Cross Country Championships at Hereford High School on Saturday, November 9. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Jenna Zietowski and Sammie Spargo helped start a new foundation for Liberty’s girls cross country program at the beginning of the season.

Once the Lions established new workouts, formed strong relationships with new teammates, and continued to find success at meets, the senior duo knew this team was capable of something special.

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The Carroll County and Class 2A West champions added another championship to their resume this season with a 2A state title Saturday at Hereford High School. The Lions placed five runners in the top 20 to capture the program’s second state title in six seasons.

“It was really hard because we lost a lot of people last year,” Spargo said. “We started over this year with a ton of new people and we all became friends very quickly and that helped a lot with our race today just because of how close we were. We really supported each other throughout the season.”

Co-coaches Dan Jones and Pete Lester celebrated with the girls after every Liberty athlete crossed the finish line. Freshman Izzy Lucas led the team with a fifth-place finish in 20:04.24, Spargo came in sixth in 20:11.93, and Julia Lucas was ninth.

Christian Lemaster finished 15th and Zietowski was right behind her in 16th.

“We are ecstatic because of the amount of work they put in and the adversity these two in particular went through last year and working hard for themselves,” Jones said. “To continue that same hard work this year and bringing in new girls, freshmen, a new senior and making them part of this team — it’s because of these two they were able to assimilate and become a strong team.”

Carroll County had five runners finish in the top 10 in the 2A girls race, and Winters Mill junior Kathryn Hopkins found her burst of speed in the last 100 meters to edge South Carroll junior Grace Siehler in 19:12.37.

“I didn’t really know I could pass her until we got to the baseball field and I could see she was slowing down,” Hopkins said. “I always have a fast kick so I wanted to see if I could do it. It’s really exciting to get that kind of time.”

Hopkins finished second to Siehler at the county meet on Oct. 25 and third behind Siehler and Middletown’s Erin McQuitty, the 2A state champ, at the regional meet the following week.

“If she can stick with them, she can make this a race,” said WM coach Ben Brown. “She can make this exciting and that’s exactly what she did. She has the kick and determination and she has that second to none. I was pumped to see it close and when she as able to out-kick Grace at the end, it was exciting running and something we really looked forward to.”

Siehler, the county and 2A West individual champion, helped lead the Cavaliers to a third-place finish as a team with 109 points.

Manchester Valley sophomore Rubie Goffena took off in the 3A girls race, the first competition of the day. Goffena finished seventh in 19:45.42 after sprinting the last 100 meters to cross the finish line between C. Milton Wright’s Haley Cummins and Towson’s Madeline Till.

It was a cold start, Goffena said, but the race started to flow once she found her feet and established a rhythm.

“Rubie is a very intuitive runner,” Mavericks coach Nancy Hayes said. “She expends energy right when she needs to, she’s a respectful competitor and she runs tough. She is such a gracious athlete so couldn’t be more proud of her race today.”

Goffena finished third to Siehler and Hopkins at the county meet on Oct. 24 and repeated as a regional champion at the 3A East meet at Centennial a week later.

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“It was really hard coming from county champion, and I’ve had a tough season mentally,” Goffena said. “It was really hard to go down a couple spots but I think regionals helped me mentally and coming to states, just having that mindset that I can do it and that I am strong helps.”

Westminster freshman Hannah Toth finished 30th in 20:58.1 and teammate Delaney O’Brien came in 36th in 21:13.83. The Owls finished 11th as a team with 271 points. O’Brien finished 12th and Toth came in 14th at the county meet and the Owls placed fourth in the team standings.

Francis Scott Key’s Emma Shipton finished 23rd in the 1A girls race in 23:10.12.

1A GIRLS INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10)

1. Daylie Younker (Smithsburg) 20:16.13, 2. Sophia Brown (Northern Garrett) 20:44.93, 3. Esmerelda Romero (Academy for College and Career) 20:47.21, 4. Elizabeth Wilma (Brunswick) 20:55.59, 5. Jena Rhodes (Brunswick) 21:11.01, 6. Hannah Muir (Mountain Ridge) 21:14.15, 7. Logan Bierer (Pikesville) 21:16.16, 8. Ella Ashby (Northern Garrett) 21:25.43, 9. Sarah Condon (Cambridge-South Dorchester) 21:25.5, 10. Alison Laverty (Brunswick) 21:32.14.

1A GIRLS TEAM RESULTS (TOP 10)

1. Northern Garrett 40, 2. Brunswick 45, 3. Smithsburg 96, 4. Bohemia Manor 128, 5. Cambridge-South Dorchester 145, 6. Allegany 185, 7. Williamsport 208, 8. Francis Scott Key 209, 9. Perryville 212. 10. Western Tech 223.

2A GIRLS INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10)

1. Erin McQuitty (Middletown) 19:06.75, 2. Kathryn Hopkins (Winters Mill) 19:12.20, 3. Grace Siehler (South Carroll) 19:12.37, 4. Dana Miller (Calvert) 19:37.48, 5. Izzy Lucas (Liberty) 20:04.24, 6. Sammie Spargo (Liberty) 20:11.93, 7. Eleanor Stafford (Middletown) 20:13.95, 8. Aubrey Schaffer (Oakdale) 20:14.23, 9. Julia Lucas (Liberty) 20:25.38, 10. Kristen Prince (Calvert) 20:26.73.

2A GIRLS TEAM RESULTS (TOP 10)

1. Liberty 44, 2. Middletown 74, 3. South Carroll 109, 4. Calvert 121, Boonsboro 131, 6. Kent Island 132, 7. Poolesville 176, 8. Oakdale 201, 9. Patuxent 260, 10. Carver A&T 276.

3A GIRLS INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10)

1. Oakley Olson (Northern-Calvert) 18:49.23, 2. Cooper Brotherton (Great Mills) 19:21.63, 3. Lindsay Perry (C. Milton Wright) 19:25.38, 4. Mackenzie Morrison (Bel Air) 19:38.4, 5. Elizabeth Pickett (Bel Air) 19:38.45, 6. Haley Cummins (C. Milton Wright) 19:44.4, 7. Rubie Goffena (Manchester Valley) 19:45.42, 8. Madeline Till (Towson) 19:46.53, 9. Blair Fowler (Chopticon) 19:47.55, 10. Hannah Mack (Northern-Calvert) 19:49.85.

3A GIRLS TEAM RESULTS

1. Northern-Calvert 82, 2. Bel Air 86, 3. Hereford 115, 4. Towson 150, 5. Centennial 179, 6. Huntington 197, 7. River Hill 240, 8. Atholton 250, 9. Edgewood 261, 10. Reservoir 262.

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