Westminster coach Jim Filford had a difficult time describing how his boys ran yesterday.
Gilford said the Owls did not run badly, but they could have done better. And even though No. 6 Westminster did not do its best, it still had more than enough to win the Central Maryland Conference championship for the ninth consecutive year.
The Owls, the only boys team ever to win the CMC cross country championship, placed six runners in the top 13. Led by runner-up Mike Recek -- the defending CMC, county, region and state champion -- Westminster (34 points) easily topped Linganore (52).
"I thought we'd have a few more guys in the top 10," said Gilford, whose team had not competed in 11 days. "I don't think we ran poorly. I just don't think we ran our best."
Recek had hoped to pay back Linganore's Jon Hayes for some earlier losses. But Hayes (16 minutes, 48 seconds) opened up a good lead midway through the race, and Recek could not catch up, finishing in 17:06.
The Westminster senior led for much of the first mile, but fell
back as far as fourth in the final mile. Recek made a late charge, outdueling Jason Stick (17:11) of Thomas Johnson for second place, but Hayes was out of reach.
"I let him go too far," said Recek. "I think I was cutting distance down, but it was too little, too late."
The Owls also got scoring help from Dave Barnes (fourth, 17:17), Shane Martin (seventh, 17:33), Danny Carter (10th, 17:44) and Josh Heckathorn (11th, 17:45). Tony Palaia took 13th for Westminster in 17:55.
For Barnes, it was a good showing in his first CMC championship race. The junior hoped to finish near the top, and achieved his goal. "I was looking for at least fifth place," said Barnes. "I wanted to aim pretty high."
Bobby Ward of Liberty and Jeremy Cuno of North Carroll were other county top 10 finishers. Ward took fifth in 17:23, and Cuno was eighth in 17:35. In team standings, North Carroll, South Carroll and Liberty finished fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
On the girls side, Linganore put six runners in the top 11 and rolled to its third consecutive CMC championship.
The Lancers (32) easily beat second-place Westminster (60). Thomas Johnson's Jennifer Ford dominated from start to finish to win in 19:12, easily beating Kristen Ritter (19:33) of Linganore.
The Owls, led by eighth-place finisher Jessica Detrow (21:26), kept their runners in a pack. Heidi Metzger (12th, 21:46), Angie Baer (13th, 21:48), Emily Benninghove (16th, 21:59) and Sarah Gosnell (17th, 22:02) all ran well.
Westminster has received strong performances all season from this group, and their work delighted coach Jim Shank.
"I thought we had a good shot at second place," said Shank. "I just wanted to stay with Linganore as long as we could."
South Carroll gave the county its two highest finishers. Jill Krebs, the Cavaliers' No. 2 runner, ran a tremendous race, finishing third in 19:54. She beat teammate and No. 1 runner Carrie Braun, who took sixth in 21:13.
South Carroll finished fourth overall with 114 points.