A tiny freshman from Nebraska prevented a clean sweep by Westminster's boys and girls in the Carroll County cross country championships yesterday.
Francis Scott Key's Ali Jones, who moved to Carroll County from Nebraska in the fifth grade, ran the 3.1-mile Western Maryland College course in 20 minutes, 41 seconds to take the girls individual title.
Jones, 5 feet 4, 95 pounds, finished just two seconds ahead of her F. S. Key teammate, junior Shannon Hugg, in an exciting -- to the finish line. Pre-meet favorite Joy Bullock of Westminster finished third in 21:00.
There were no major surprises in the boys championship meet. Westminster's Jim Holford finished first in 16:39 and the Owls easily won the team competition.
Jones is running cross country for the first time this season. "I remember my first big meet was at the Hershey (Pa.) Chocolate Factory when I was 9 and I was scared to death," said the F. S. Key standout. "I wound up finishing third in the 400-meter run."
However, the 1-2 finish for the Eagles couldn't prevent a deeper Westminster squad from taking the girls team title with 26 points.
Bullock, a junior, said she clipped 11 seconds off her personal best at the Westminster course, but still couldn't stay close to Jones and Hugg.
"I think they [Jones and Hugg] wanted to beat each other and weren't worried about me," said the daughter of Jim Bullock, the F. S. Key coach. "I did well to finish third in the county and improve my time, but I'm disappointed I didn't win."
Bullock broke down in tears as she crossed the finish line, making it a hard day for her father. "It was very difficult for everybody," said Jim Bullock. "Joy's my daughter and I love her but I have to support my team."
In the boys meet, Westminster came close to a perfect 15 score by taking four of the top five places.
Holford and teammate Chris Zendgraft were 1-2 in the race with Zendgraft five seconds back at 16:44.
Holford led all the way but said he got a little concerned when he suddenly heard cheers for Zendgraft.
"I thought Chris must be moving in on me," said Holford. "He gave me a good race but I was able to hold on."