Francis Scott Key coach Rich Salkin said he thought his girls could win the South Carroll Invitational if they stayed in a pack and among the leaders.
He was right.
Francis Scott Key placed five runners in the top 11 -- including three in the top five -- as it rolled to an easy victory yesterday in the eight-team event at South Carroll.
Howard's boys routed the field in similar style, putting five
runners in the top 16.
Christine Harner led the way for Key, finishing second in 23 minutes, 16 seconds, behind victor Carrie Braun (22:53) of South Carroll. Braun took the lead after the one-mile mark and stretched it from there.
"I was just hoping to go out and beat Key," said Braun, a sophomore. "I was cold [the race began at 10:15 a.m.], but after a little while I started to feel really good."
Kristen Engel (fourth), Ali Jones (fifth), Dawn Harner (seventh) and Jen Moorman (11th) made up the rest of the scoring for Key.
The Eagles ran so well in their pack that observers repeatedly saw a bunch of blue-and-red jerseys together at the front at different points in the race.
The Eagles finished with 29 points, far ahead of South Carroll (61) and North Carroll (74).
"I thought we had a good chance to place high [or] to win the meet,"said Salkin. "I wanted [us] to stay in packs and . . . run together."
Christine Harner agreed that the Eagles' success came from sticking in a group throughout the race.
"I think our team looks strong staying together like that," she said. "When I see us, I think of a team."
Carrie Cook (third) and Christi Keith (ninth) of North Carroll and Annie Mullins (sixth) from South Carroll were the other county runners to crack the top 10.
North Carroll and South Carroll finished second and third, respectively, on the boys side. The Panthers (74) edged the host Cavaliers (78) on the strength of Jeremy Cuno's third-place finish and Bryan Gunning's fourth.
Josh Fortenbaugh (fifth) and Sean Rayford (ninth) were South Carroll's entries in the top 10. Damon Battaglia (sixth) was the lone finisher there for Key, which finished fourth overall with 98 points.
But Howard stole the show for the boys. The Lions got strong races from Martin Berlett (second), John Goode (seventh), John Corwin (eighth), Erin Chalmers (10th) and Jeff Miner (16th). The Lions finished with 43 points, easily topping North Carroll.
"We knew we had to beat North Carroll and South Carroll," said Howard coach Martin Goode. "We weren't confident we'd win. We just matched up well."
Franklin's Shawn Carpenter won the race. The senior's time of 18:24 let him beat Berlett by six seconds.
"I wanted to get out and go because there are some tight spots in the course," said Carpenter. "But I didn't expect to get out so far."