EMMITSBURG -- A star is born. Oops, better make that plural, stars are born.
Chris Wright, a Mount St. Joseph sophomore who until five days ago had never run in a cross country meet, and the girls from Notre Dame Prep had a big day at the Peter Geraghty Cross Country Invitational yesterday.
Finding the 5K (3.1-mile) course at Mount St. Mary's to their liking, Wright took on the top-rated boys team in the area, Westminster, and won breezing while NDP hit the competition with its flying wedge of runners and took team honors convincingly.
As impressive as Wright was individually while prevailing by 100 yards in 16 minutes, 33 seconds, Westminster was collectively as it grabbed the next four spots. Its 2-3-4-5-9 finish gave the Owls 23 points and an easy victory over Mount St. Joseph at 57.
NDP, unbeaten in dual-meet competition last year and Interscholastic Athletic Association (IAAM) champions, placed five runners in the top ten (4-7-8-9-10), all of whom are underclassmen.
"What a way to start the season," said NDP coach Ed Donnellan. "The girls had some pressure on them because they were so successful, and maybe they lived up to their billing. The thing is, our top finisher today, Sarah Arbaugh (fourth), was injured all last season. We should be better."
For openers, the Pirates thumped the always competitive Westminster Owls, 33-61. Tiara Callegary and Kate Henshaw of the Owls finished third and sixth, respectively, behind winner Josianne Lauben of Oxford (Pa.), the only girl to break 20 minutes (19: 32).
What put Wright in position to roar from the gate so impressively this fall is his exploits on the track this summer. Running for the Randallstown Track Club, Wright grabbed two gold medals at the national junior championships in Cleveland, clocking 9: 01 for 3,000 meters and, in his first attempt at the 2,000-meter stepplechase, ran a national (13-14) age group record (6: 43).
Westminster's Jesse O'Connell, Josh Davis and Kevin Pool finished in the next three positions behind Wright and ran just seconds apart.
Mount St. Joseph took the runner-up position among 10 teams with Greg Zmijewski (seventh) and Kyle Reagan (10) making it into the top ten and Dan Ramirez (16) and Juston Duncan (25) completing the scoring.
In Wright's first cross country race ever, Tuesday over the Western Maryland College golf course, Chris won a race for novices in 17: 25. "I was just running to win, not get a time," he said. "I didn't know if I'd like it. After just two races I've come to the conclusion that I love cross country."
The annual Spiked Shoe cross country race at Johns Hopkins was not without its problems yesterday. But, in the final analysis, about 600 runners representing 25 schools had a good time chasing Kacie Remeto of C. Milton Wright and Braxton Collier of St. Albans (Washington) across the finish line.
Remeto, who previously competed for McDonogh, led C.M. Wright to the girls team title over Washington area schools W. T. Woodson and Bishop Ireton.
T. C. Williams, C. M. Wright and St. Albans were the top three team in the boys competition.