Arundel's Geoff Warren is a junior who's young enough to be a sophomore. He's also a runner who admittedly lacks the speed of many of his opponents.
At yesterday's Class 4A cross country championships at Western Maryland College, however, what Cross country
Warren lacked in physical attributes he made up for with heart.
The junior finished fifth in 16 minutes, 40 seconds to pace Arundel to a fourth-pace finish, one point ahead of county rival Severna Park.
"Running is more mental than anything else," said Warren, a junior. "If you have the mental and emotional strength, it can outweigh the physical strength."
His coach, Ralph Luce, agreed. "It was typical Geoff Warren. Work very hard and get the most out of yourself. He's not physically gifted, but he thinks a race through very well."
Arundel placed four runners in the top 45 to finish with 179 points, one better than Severna Park's 180 for top honors among county teams. For Luce, the win came as a surprise.
"It really feels nice to beat Severna Park," said Luce. "Going head-to-head, they'd probably beat us. We were a better team in this race because of a numbers game."
Warren's fifth-place finish made the difference, as Severna Park's topscorer, Jack Longley, finished 13th.
"To beat all the other teams in the county is really a big thrill," said Warren, who won the county and regional meets. "Coming into the season, I never would've imagined taking counties and regionals, then taking fifth in the state. I was just shooting for the top 15."
Quince Orchard won the meet with 51 points, followed by Westminster and Perry Hall. Other Anne Arundel County teams in the field were seventh-place Old Mill, Broadneck (10th), Chesapeake (11th), North County (15th) and Annapolis, which didn't field a complete team.
Troy Harry of Quince Orchard won the race in 16:03, 12 seconds ahead of teammate Kevin Birdsell. Westminster's Jim Holford and Chris Zendgraft finished third and fourth, respectively.
On the girls side, Severna Park, led by ninth-place Brianna Weidman, finished third behind Dulaney and Quince Orchard.
Severna Park's Kerry Lindenmeyer and Katrina Lee also placed in the top 25 to help their team's scoring. But the best county finisher was Jessica Davis of Old Mill, who took third in 19:32.
With Amanda White of Dulaney bettering her own course record with a blistering time of 17:18, however, the race was over by the halfway point.
Davis ran in fifth place for most of the race, but was able to move up in the last half mile.
"In the last 440 I just picked it up and went all out," said Davis, a sophomore. "I really surprised myself."
Davis was the benefactor of a scary incident late in the race. After running in second and third for most of the race, Annapolis' Kristen Nicolini collapsed from exhaustion about 100 yards from the finish line, allowing several runners to pass her.
"I saw her dying out, and I kept thinking 'I can catch her,' " said Davis. "At the very end she just fell. It scared me. They were screaming at us not to help her, because they wanted her to finish."
Nicolini, however, recovered enough to limp to the finish line in 11th place.
"When I got to the 2-mile point, I knew I was exhausted," said Nicolini. "I wasn't seeing right and I started to lose control of my
body. I just really wanted to finish, though."