The Dulaney girls and Westminster boys each took similar paths to the same prize at yesterday's Westminster Invitational.
Both Dulaney and Westminster sprinkled several runners throughout the top 20 and scored the same number of points foreasy team victories at Western Maryland College.
Top-ranked Dulaney showed the balance that has helped it win two straight Class 4A state championships.
Five Lions runners finished in the girls race's top 20. Melissa Wilson (seventh, 20 minutes, 51 seconds), Meghan White (10th, 21: 15), Marjorie Bollinger (14th, 21: 31), Meredith Fellman (16th, 21: 35) and Bianca Joy (19th, 21: 55) helped the Lions score 66 points, far ahead of runner-up Fallston (122).
Dulaney coach Bob Dean viewed this as an early-season test for his team -- one it easily passed.
"It was a good field, and it gives us an idea of where we are," said Dean. "We're all right. "
The top-ranked Westminster boys also impressed their coach. Jim Gilford watched his team place four runners in the top 17 while also scoring 66 points and beating Atholton (111).
Dave Barnes (third, 17: 46), Greg Fisher (fourth, 17: 47), Josh Davis (10th, 18: 15), Ross Bair (17th, 18: 33) and Tom Park (32nd, 18: 58) scored the points that helped the Owls win.
Gilford said the team still has work to do, but has gotten off to a good start. "I like where we are," said Gilford.
The Owls got a closer look at Howard County's Atholton (led by eighth-place finisher Nick Barresi) and county rival South Carroll.
The Cavaliers, paced by Steve McClearn (seventh, 17: 54), finished third with 138 points and showed they may have to be reckoned with later this season.
The boy runner no one wanted to reckon with was Eric Benjamin of C. Milton Wright in Harford County. Benjamin was trying to regain a bit of confidence after fading late and finishing second to Gilman's Dave Chalmers in last weekend's Spiked Shoe meet.
"At the Spiked Shoe, I think I went out a little too fast, and I paid for it," said Benjamin. "Today, I went out slow, and I stayed in the pack. It didn't seem like anyone was pushing it, so I decided to go."
Benjamin (17: 04) never had much trouble in winning by 14 seconds over Shawn Sullivan of Dulaney, a summer running partner.
Fallston's Amy Datsko employed a similar strategy in winning her race.
Datsko took the lead around the half-mile mark and gradually pulled away to win in 19: 49. Harford County running mate Kelly Coogan finished second, 18 seconds back.
"I felt really good today," said Datsko. "I kind of held back a little at the beginning. But it felt good, so I went out."
Westminster came in third with 147 points. The host Owls put two runners in the top 20 -- Sarah Brumfitt (13th, 21: 29) and Angie Baer (17th, 21: 40).
Pub Date: 9/19/96