It was a case of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better at the state cross country championships at Hereford yesterday.
No sooner had Tenke Zoltani of Dulaney run five seconds off the course record while winning the Class 4A title in 19 minutes, 4.87 seconds, leading her team to a closesecond-place finish to C. Milton Wright, 84-86, when Emily Buzzell and her Middletown High mates lined up for the Class 2A romp.
Zip, there went another seven seconds off the record as the freshman phenom blitzed the hilly, three-mile terrain in 18: 57.2.
Before assuming there's a changing of the guard, realize Zoltani, a sophomore, captured her fourth state title in just three meets, counting indoor and outdoor track, and the girls are 1-1 in head-to-head competition this fall.
As for the boys 4A, it was pretty much over at the mile mark when Westminster, bidding for its fourth straight title, put four runners in the first eight. Jesse O'Connell, Josh Davis, Kevin Pool and Tristan Gilbert ended up 2-3-6-7 behind race victor Marcus Hershberger of Gaithersburg (16: 29).
Even though they had to wait awhile for their fifth finisher, the Owls scored 54 points to runner-up Severna Park's 126. Justin Marvel (16: 39) finished fifth for the Falcons.
In Class 3A, River Hill, bidding to be almost as dominant as Westminster, nearly made it as Mike Styczynski (16: 22), Shane Stroup (16: 34) and Steve Chu (16: 58) went 1-4-7, scoring 64 points. The team needed every bit of it to dispose of defending champion South Carroll, which had Bobby Mead (16: 29) and Matt Adami (16: 49) go 2-6 while finishing second with 76 points.
Despite the victory by North Carroll's Colleen Lawson (19: 37) in the girls 3A and a 2-7 finish by Lee McDuff (19: 52) and Susan Wilson (21: 11) of River Hill, Montgomery County's Walter Johnson matched Westminster's record by winning its fourth straight title.
While Middletown was scoring just 24 points (1-2-5-6-10) in the girls 2A, Catonsville (82) won a three-way duel with Linganore (99) and Mount Hebron (102) for the second spot. Tricia O'Connell (19: 55), Katie Pfeifer (21: 23) and Becky Clipp (21: 54) did most of the work while finishing 4-12-15. Kate Frande (19: 35) of Mount Hebron was third in the race.
Towson's boys, led by John Winternitz (17: 48) in 10th, finished fourth behind Urbana. The winner of the 2A race was Scott Herrick of Linganore, who breezed by 23 seconds in 16: 41.
In the boys 1A, Oakland Mills put its five scorers among the first 21 finishers and squeezed by Howard County rival Glenelg, 72-73. Jon Goldsmith (17: 11) of Glenelg was second behind Ryan Foster (16: 35) of Beall.
The same fate befell the Glenelg girls as their male counterparts, the team losing out to Southern Garrett, 40-54. Carrie Selmer of Glenelg finished second in 21: 08 behind Nory Sarns (20: 49) of Allegany, a school that does not have cross country teams.
In addition to the expected close race between the C. Milton Wright and Dulaney girls, with defending champ Severna Park thrown in to make things interesting, the race of the day was expected to be Zoltani going against C.M. Wright's Kacie Remeto.
But Zoltani didn't give the field a chance once she hit the mile in 6: 00 flat and said she "felt terrific. I was having the time of my life. This is my first season of cross country and I figured to have some fun and go as far as I could. I love it, but outdoor track is still my favorite."
Remeto ended up being knocked down; and, it was only the fact she got up and managed to finish 32nd that allowed the Mustangs to win the team title by two points.