The wait is over for Josh Davis and North Carroll's girls.
Davis, a Westminster senior who had one career win, blitzed a field of 35 boys to capture the gold medal, and the Panthers' girls upset four-time defending champion Westminster at the Carroll County Cross Country Championships at Western Maryland College yesterday.
Davis ran the 3.1-mile, hilly and windy course along the college golf course in a speedy 16 minutes, 20 seconds -- 11 seconds better than teammate Jesse O'Connell, who won the silver. South Carroll junior Matt Adami secured the bronze with a time of 16: 36.
Davis has been the Owls' No. 2 runner since his freshman year, when he backed up 1996 County Runner of the Year Greg Fisher. Davis spent his sophomore and junior years running behind 1997 and 1998 County Runner of the Year Jason Santucci.
This fall, Davis had played second fiddle to O'Connell -- until yesterday.
"I've waited for this for four years," said a relieved Davis, who finished seventh at the Central Maryland Conference championships last weekend. "I think I deserved it today, because I've waited so long, and I've put a lot of work into this."
O'Connell, a fellow senior, gave Davis a bearhug after they finished.
"No one is prouder of him than I am," O'Connell said. "He has put together a dominating four years here, and he really deserved to win this."
At first, the battle for the county crown appeared to be fought between O'Connell and South Carroll's one-two punch of Adami and Bobby Mead, who won the gold at the CMC meet.
But a steep hill after the 2-mile marker drained Adami and Mead, both of whom tired quickly and drifted back.
Davis and O'Connell led a Westminster team that placed all seven of its runners in the top 12 to win the team title by 19 points over second-place South Carroll.
In the girls competition, Colleen Lawson, a junior from North Carroll, won her second consecutive county championship with a time of 20: 03.
Tara Callegary and Kate Henshaw, both of Westminster, finished 20: 22 and 20: 29, respectively, for the silver and bronze medals.
Lawson, who captured her second straight CMC crown last weekend, led from start-to-finish yesterday.
"It was pretty tough out there," said Lawson, the reigning county and metro Runner of the Year. "I tried to go out at a good pace, and when I looked around, there was nobody on me."
The Panthers placed all seven of their runners in the top 13 to cruise past annual champ Westminster, 51-88.
North Carroll coach Kourtnay Purcaro said her squad was hungry to improve on last weekend's fourth-place finish at the CMC meet.
"After Saturday's meet, they came back," Purcaro said. "They had a greater desire today to come in first."
Yesterday's meet was the first time in five years the Owls had not claimed the county title, but Westminster coach Sarah Ensor credited the Panthers with an strong performance.
"They're a great team," Ensor said of North Carroll. "To come in second to them is fine."