Annapolis sophomore Alison Ross doesn't mind coming in second -- as long as teammate Kristen Nicolini is the first one to cross the finish line.
Nicolini and Ross finished 1-2 at last weekend's Anne Arundel Invitational cross country meet, and they matched that feat again yesterday on the 3.2 miles of mostly flat land that serve as the course for the Meade Autumn Classic. Nicolini finished in 19 minutes, 23 seconds and Ross in 21:10.
The only difference this time is that Ross doesn't have the medal to show for it. The runner-up had to settle for a fourth-place medal because two disqualified runners walked off with the second- and third-place awards.
Two runners from Watkins Mill went dramatically off-course in the final mile of the race and found themselves in front of Ross heading down the stretch.
"I was thinking, 'Where did they come from?' and I started to chase after them but then I slowed down because I knew something was wrong. I just didn't know if it was them or it was me," said Ross, gripping her fourth-place medal. "I don't care about the medal because I know I finished second."
Mike Recek of Westminster knew where he was going in the boys race. He just followed South River's Jack Longley until he slowed down and then he made his move.
"This is a flat course so I tried to gain on him [Longley] on the turns," said Recek, who won in a time of 16:58. "[Longley] was setting a tough pace in the beginning, but I felt him losing it toward the end and I just kept closing in on him."
Recek's finish, coupled with two top 15 finishes by teammates Greg Fisher (10th, 18:13) and Josh Heckathorn (15th, 18:29), helped the Owls win the boys team competition. Rounding out Westminster's winning squad were Nate Shank and W. C. Knight.
Despite Annapolis' 1-2 finish and a 15th-place from Susan de Wolff on the girls side, the Panthers had to settle for second place behind Frederick, which had an identical score of 78 but a higher finish by its sixth runner.
Arundel's boys took second in the team competition. The Wildcats' Blair Morse, Chad Webber and Tim Kelley finished 9-11-12.
Ryan Stevens of Chesapeake-AA edged Centennial's Mike French to capture the third-place medal and help his Cougars to a fifth-place finish among the 16 boys teams.
Dana Strickland of Atholton took third in the individual girls competition, and Kari Meyer of Centennial claimed fifth.
Glen Burnie's Becky McDivitt took seventh out of the field of 156 girls, and Jessica Davis of Old Mill was eighth.
Ian Ross, Alison's brother, took sixth for Annapolis' ninth-place boys team.