Boys Runner of the Year
J.J. Wetzel, Archbishop Spalding: Nothing like learning from last season's All-Metro Runner of the Year to create some waves of your own. Last year, Wetzel absorbed what he could from running behind Dusty Lieb and put that learning to good use this season. The junior won three championships - the Georgetown Prep Classic (small schools race), the Anne Arundel Invitational (small schools race) and the St. John's Invitational. Wetzel placed second behind three-time Baltimore City/County Runner of the Year Chris Wright of Mount St. Joseph at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championships and was third at the Mid-Atlantic Private Schools championships. For the year, Wetzel finished no worse than fifth in eight major events. Wetzel, who increased his weekly mileage from 30 to 45 miles this past summer, said he hopes what he learned from Lieb is evident in him. "Everything he did, he trained hard," Wetzel said of his former teammate. "I'm trying to emulate him in as many ways as possible." This is Wetzel's second consecutive selection to the All-County team.
Boys Coach of the Year
Shawn Smith, St. Mary's: When Smith took over the Saints team in 1999, he admittedly had no idea what he was getting himself into. Smith, who helped his high school team in Pennsylvania win three conference championships as a runner and four more as a coach, was assuming a program that had finished last in the MIAA B Conference and hadn't reached the .500 level in years. But that didn't stop him from pledging to his charges that St. Mary's would bring home a conference title. Three seasons later, the Saints made that promise stand by avenging a regular-season loss to Glenelg Country and winning the conference. Smith, who gave the team a day off on the eve of the MIAA championships for the first time in his coaching career, may not be around to coach next season. As the director of training and franchise development for Ledo Pizza, Smith, who also coaches the girls team, may have to resign from one team or even both. If it comes down to leaving the coaching profession, Smith said he will enjoy the opportunity to go out in style. "It reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld," Smith said. "He had the top ratings, he had done all he could, and he dropped out. I know I've accomplished all my goals with the boys."
Ryan Althaus, Broadneck: As the No. 2 runner for the Bruins, Althaus made gradual improvements during the season. The senior overcame less-than-stellar outings at the Bull Run and the Peter Geraghty Invitational and put forth some of his best performances in the latter half of the year. Althaus finished sixth at the county championships, 15th at the Lancer Invitational and 19th at the Class 4A East regional meet. He also was the top county finisher at the Meade Autumn Classic, placing ninth. Althaus is leaning toward running at either Mary Washington or UNC-Wilmington.
Chris Clarke, South River: Perhaps the most thrilling moment of a race is the all-out sprint toward the finish line, and Clarke provided his share of excitement this fall. Trailing Padraic Murray of Severna Park by about 25 yards on the final stretch of the county championships, Clarke, a senior, surged and slipped past Murray to capture second place in 16:54.7 - a personal best for the season. Clarke also placed seventh at the Anne Arundel Invitational in the large schools division and 13th at the Meade Autumn Classic. He is considering Georgia Tech and Rensselaer among his college options.
Brandon Davis, Chesapeake: No one made a bigger leap this fall than Davis. The sophomore, who finished 76th at last year's county championships, was seventh at the county event and 17th at the Class 4A East regional meet. A confident runner who enjoyed racing out to the front in the early goings, Davis placed 11th at the Bull Run (large schools), 12th at the Meade Autumn Classic and 14th at the Anne Arundel Invitational (large schools).
Mike Hall, Severna Park: Steady without the flash associated with many No. 1 runners, Hall embodied the yeoman-like spirit of a Falcons squad that captured its sixth county title in 12 seasons. Hall, a senior, won the county crown in 16:43.0, placed second in the large schools races at the Georgetown Prep Classic and the Anne Arundel Invitational, and finished sixth at the Class 3A East regional meet. Gregarious and friendly, Hall stood at the finish line at the county championship meet and personally congratulated every runner who ran past him.
Scott Koehler, Broadneck: Burdened with the task of replacing Stephen Weller, last year's county champion, Koehler performed admirably in the No. 1 role. The senior placed fifth at the county championships, ninth at the regional meet and 14th at the state event. Koehler, an All-County choice last fall, also added a 10th-place finish at the Bull Run (large schools) and two 14th-place finishes at the Lancer Invitational and the Meade Autumn Classic to his list of showings.
Lee McCloskey, Glen Burnie: In his first season on the varsity level, McCloskey turned some heads with his running ability. The junior was 10th at the county championships, 14th at the Class 4A East regional event and 20th at the state meet. Only Koehler had a better performance than McCloskey at states. McCloskey, who was ninth in the large schools race of the Anne Arundel Invitational and 19th at the Meade Autumn Classic, will be one of the top runners in the county next fall.
Padraic Murray, Severna Park: A solid No. 2 runner for the Falcons, Murray might've been the top runner in other programs. But the senior provided the perfect complement to Hall. Murray was third at the county championships and at the Anne Arundel Invitational. He also finished sixth at the Georgetown Prep Classic and seventh at the regional event.
Alek Pivec, St. Mary's: Perhaps it's no coincidence that the Saints' rise from obscurity began when Pivec joined the program. The junior developed into the team's No. 1 runner and delivered at the MIAA championships by winning the B Conference individual crown in 17:50.50. Pivec, who placed ninth at the Knights Invite, 10th at the Anne Arundel Invitational (small schools) and 12th at the Mid-Atlantic Private Schools championships, should be a solid foundation for the St. Mary's team next season.
Ryan Williams, Northeast: Williams ran an abbreviated schedule after getting into some trouble at the beginning of the season and sitting out more than half of the Eagles' meets to collect himself. But the layoff barely affected the junior as Williams was fourth at the county championships, 10th at the Class 3A East regional meet and 27th at the state meet. His showing at states was the best by a county runner in the Class 3A division. He was named to the All-County team last fall.
Girls Runner of the Year
Lauren Centrowitz, Broadneck: Bruins coach Dana Dobbs likes to emphasize consistency and progress from his runners. Centrowitz practiced what her coach preached. The sophomore made huge leaps in her performance this fall and became the dominant runner in the county. Centrowitz upset defending county champion Becca Funk of Severna Park to claim the 3.1-mile county title in 19:22.3 and also won the Class 4A East regional crown in 19:01. Centrowitz was a model of consistency as she placed second at the state meet and the Meade Autumn Classic, third at the Lancer Invitational, fourth at the Bull Run (elite race) and sixth at the Peter Geraghty Invitational. For Centrowitz., her accomplishments exceeded her expectations. "When you're a freshman, you don't know what you're doing. You just go out and run," she said. "But I had last year to work on. ... It wasn't easy, but it's been fun." This is her second straight appearance on the All-County team.
Girls Coach of the Year
Ed Purpura, Severna Park: Purpura could've earned this honor for his work with both the boys and the girls teams. But his patience and tutelage with the latter squad stood out from his other achievements. The 13-year coach started out with one of his least experienced teams. Seven of his top 10 runners had never taken up cross country, and the horizon began to get cloudier when the Falcons lost to Broadneck in a scrimmage and three head-to-head events this fall. But Purpura said he was buoyed by the progress he was witnessing and felt confident that his team would prevail eventually. Severna Park proved him right by toppling the Bruins in the county championships and earning its fifth consecutive county title and 14th crown in the past 16 years. The No. 8 Falcons also were runner-ups in the Class 3A East regional meet to fourth-ranked Mount Hebron. Purpura, who has been hinting that his coaching career may be coming to an end, said the team's showing may force him to postpone that day. "I told them that years like this will add years to my coaching career," Purpura said. "It's extremely satisfying to see them believe in themselves and to see that faith rewarded on that day."
Rachel Dalby, Annapolis: As the Panthers' No. 1 runner for the second straight year, Dalby made Steve Rogers' first season as head coach relatively peaceful. Three appeared to be the senior's favorite number as Dalby was third at the Bull Run (large schools), county championships and the Class 3A East regional event. Dalby, who was an All-County pick last season, also finished second in the large schools race of the Anne Arundel Invitational.
Becca Funk, Severna Park: The expression "wearing your heart on your sleeve" is almost a personal conviction for Funk. After a first-place finish in the large schools race of the Anne Arundel Invitational (19:59) and a second-place finish in the large schools division of the Georgetown Prep Classic, Funk was emotionally devastated when she lost an opportunity for a second straight county title. But Funk, who is making her third straight appearance on the All-County team, bounced back in typical fashion, winning the Class 3A East regional meet in 19:01 and placing fourth at the state event. Her worst finish was 10th in the elite race at Bull Run.
Ashley Heim, Severna Park: Heim was one of the seven Falcons runners participating in her first cross country season. The junior survived a few rocky outings and turned in a fifth-place finish in the large schools division of the Anne Arundel Invitational, a seventh-place finish at the county championships and an 11th-place finish at the Knights Invite. Her 11th-place outing at the regional event and 32nd-place showing at the state meet should provide her with some valuable experience for next season.
Jennifer Hickey, Old Mill: Hickey was arguably as consistent as Centrowitz and Funk. The senior was fourth twice at the county championships and the Class 4A East regional meet, sixth twice in the large schools races of the Bull Run and Anne Arundel Invitational, and seventh at the Knights Invite. Hickey, who was also 10th at the Meade Autumn Classic, capped her second consecutive selection to the All-County team by finishing 17th at the state event. She may continue running at either UMBC or Loyola.
Stephanie Newton, Severna Park: Newton made the most of her first cross country season by developing into the Falcons' No. 2 runner. The sophomore placed fifth at the county championships and seventh at the regional and state meets. Newton - who also was fourth in the large schools division of the Anne Arundel Invitational, 10th at the Knights Invite and 15th in the large schools race of the Georgetown Prep Classic - will be a significant returning runner for Severna Park.
Roberta Schoultz, St. Mary's: Mirroring her boys counterpart in Alek Pivec, Schoultz has grown into her role as the Saints' top runner. The junior was sixth and 10th in the small schools races of the Georgetown Prep Classic and the Anne Arundel Invitational, respectively. Schoultz placed ninth at the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships and fifth at the Mid-Atlantic Private Schools championships.
U'Tonna Sherrod, Archbishop Spalding: Sherrod earned her second All-County selection in three seasons after registering consistent showings this fall. The senior never dipped below 13th in six major events. Her best performances were a seventh-place finish in the small schools division of the Georgetown Prep Classic and two ninth-place finishes in the Mid-Atlantic Private Schools championships and the St. John's Invitational. Sherrod, a quiet leader on and off the course, is aiming to run at UMBC.
Susan St. Cyr, Broadneck: With three returning All-County runners in Centrowitz, Sophie Thibodeau and Danielle Veilleux, it might've been difficult for St. Cyr to make her mark. But the sophomore broke through in her first varsity season. St. Cyr placed sixth in the county championships, seventh in the regional meet and 14th at the Lancer Invitational. Although she finished 36th at states, St. Cyr's youth will continue to be a valuable component for the Bruins.
Annie Winstanley, Severna Park: Not many No. 4 runners can enjoy All-County status, but Winstanley made significant improvements in her role. The sophomore in her first season of cross country took her lumps in a few races, but also found her stride in others. Winstanley finished eighth in both the county championships and the large schools division of the Anne Arundel Invitational. She also added a 12th-place finish in the regional meet and a 17th-place finish in the Knights Invite to a memorable season.
The Baltimore Sun 2001 All-Anne Arundel County cross country teams were selected by Edward Lee after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.