FREDERICK -- "Ho hum," some people said yesterday after the Westminster boys cross country team won its seventh Central Maryland Conference championship in the seven years the meet has been held.
But they didn't understand the significance of this victory for Owls coach Jim Gilford.
"What makes this one special is we lost nearly everybody from last year but still won," said Gilford, whose Owls will seek a 10th straight Carroll County championship Friday at Western Maryland College.
The Owls placed four runners in the top 10 yesterday to hold off a challenge from host Linganore and win the meet in what was supposed to be a down year for the team.
Westminster had 36 points, Linganore was second at 46 and Frederick was far back in third at 94.
Linganore's Aaron Price took first with a course-record time of 17 minutes, 5 seconds over the 3.1-mile course, breaking the record of former Westminster standout Jim Holford (17:22).
Liberty, led by Joe Ledda's second-place finish of 17:29, was fourth (111), North Carroll fifth (120) and South Carroll sixth (136).
In the girls CMC meet, Westminster (69 points) was edged for second place by Frederick (67).
Both teams were far behind Linganore, which won the girls team title with 27 points.
Amy Elwell was the top finisher for the Owls, and all four Carroll teams, taking sixth place (21:46).
The top three places went to girls who established course-record times.
Tricia Mangan of Thomas Johnson won her second straight CMC title in 19:37, shattering the girls course record of 20:15.
That mark was held by Linganore's Jacquelyn Hayes, who took second at 19:53. The Lancers' Mandy Gotch was third at 19:59.
Westminster girls coach Dale Fogelsanger had hoped for at least a second-place finish for the three-time CMC girls champs.
"We ran well but the other teams were just better," he said. "I guess the competition chases those girls to course-record times."
Westminster's Joy Bullock finished 15th, one place shy of making the second All-CMC girls team. Bullock has been first- or second-team All-CMC the past two years.
In the boys title meet, Westminster's Tim Meerschaert finished third in 17:32, and Owls' sophomore Mike Recek was fifth at 17:38.
Until last week, Recek was No. 5 on the Westminster team and yesterday he was fifth in the entire CMC.
Meerschaert and Recek are typical of the new-look Owls since neither runner was on the team last season. Meerschaert is a transfer from Michigan and Recek is competing in his first season.
"I was concerned about all these hills around here," said Meerschaert. "There weren't as many hills out in Michigan. I was hoping to finish in the top 10 somewhere today. I ran better than I zTC thought because I knew one of our guys was falling back and that encouraged me to do better."
Recek said he had a case of the nerves before the meet but he didn't let it affect his running strategy.
"My coach [Gilford] kept telling me it's good to be nervous," said Recek. "I just tried to stay with the leaders and then turned it on at the end."