Amy Altmann and Jen Englehart followed their coach's advice yesterday in the state cross country meet at Hereford.
"I told them to be conservative at the beginning, not to burn out in the first mile," said coach Barbara Johnson of C. Milton Wright. "And to pick up the pace at the end."
The two did just that and led the Mustangs to second place among Class 3A girls teams.
The approach proved ideal for the Hereford course, which this year was made longer and more hilly than previously. Altmann and Englehart applied another tactic of their own: running together.
Staying side by side through almost the entire race, even talking to each other at times, they worked their way through the pack and finished just one place apart.
"They are a unique situation," said Johnson. "They've done that in other races. They are very supportive, but very competitive."
Among the 107 runners in the race, Altmann finished seventh, completing the 3.1-mile course in 22 minutes, 6 seconds. Englehart was eighth in 22:08.
Teammates Kelly Coogan (11th in 22:29), Stina Fangmark (25th in 23:42), and Erin Bralich (45th in 24:56) also proved adept at running Hereford's hills.
"We've done a lot of hill work, particularly teaching them how to run downhill," said Johnson. "Most kids put the brakes on downhill and it hurts them."
The Mustangs, who won the state championship in 1988 and placed second in 1985, scored 91 points. Linganore won with 46, and Walter Johnson High School was third with 117.
It was the best finish of the day by a Harford team, as Harford runners came home without a team or individual title for only the second time since 1980.
The Fallston boys, the county and regional champions, placed seventh in Class 2A.
"Chris [Parkinson] ran a phenomenal race," said Fallston coach Donnie Mickey. "He did just what we talked about, starting out conservatively and going for it at the mile. But it wasn't a good day for the team."
Parkinson placed fifth in 18:28, the fastest time of the day among Harford runners. The Cougars' Mike Martinek was 20th in 19:27, and Nick Sayers, a freshman, 48th in 20:07.
Eric Benjamin of C. Milton Wright placed fifth among 3A boys. He was timed in 18:43, just one second and two places ahead of teammate Dave Warnick. Ola Fangmark was the third runner for Wright, at 33rd place, as the Mustangs finished fifth.
A fifth-place medal also went to Megan McNew. Competing in the girls 2A, the North Harford sophomore ran third most of the way and finished in 22:35. In the same race, Erin Chlumsky of Fallston placed 20th in 23:56, two places ahead of teammate Shalani Ayyagari (24:01).
Bel Air's Michelle Apland was 12th in the 3A race. The Bel Air
senior was diagnosed with severe anemia 12 days before the race but elected to run and finished in 22:31. The Bobcats were seventh as a team, with Meredith Eyler 22nd at 23:32 and Lauren Hafer 32nd at 24:31.
Freshman Beth Hadrys of Joppatowne placed 11th in 23:16 in the 1A girls race. Sarah Whatley was the top finisher for Havre de Grace in the same race, placing 47th in 26:06.
In boys 1A, Stuart Simms of Joppatowne was 21st in 19:46, and Mike Knefel of Harford Tech 25th in 19:59.