A. Smith quickly hits stride with Villanova

The Baltimore Sun

.. Ali Smith (Atholton), a freshman cross country runner at Villanova, had no idea what to expect Sept. 15, when she was preparing for her first collegiate meet at White Clay Creek State Park in Newark, Del.

She had never run a 6K race (in high school, the races were 5K) and wasn't certain what would be a good time for her. Smith could only guess that all the runners in the Delaware Invitational would be strong, but she had no idea who were the strongest.

So she followed the simple instructions of her coaches: Get behind senior teammate Akilah Vargas, follow her and see what happens.

What happened was slightly shocking.

Smith won the race in 22 minutes and 29 seconds, finishing ahead of junior teammate Ellen Dougherty, who took second place.

And what happened to Vargas, who finished eighth?

"She dropped back and I felt good," Smith said. "So I went with it."

Smith said she was hoping to finish in the top five and "had no idea I would be first. It was totally unexpected."

When asked why she was able to pull off the major surprise in her first collegiate meet, Smith said: "I was just excited. It was nothing I ate or did."

The former Raiders standout said it was a great way to start the season, "but I don't expect that kind of stuff to happen to me all the time."

Five days after winning the race, Smith said the impact hadn't "sunk in yet." As for her parents, Smith said, "They've been really excited. They said 'Oh, my gosh. Congratulations.' "

Mother knows best

When Syracuse sophomore Andrew Robinson (Calvert Hall) got off to a dismal start in his first two games as the Orange's starting quarterback, throwing nine interceptions, his mother, Jane, didn't seem too worried.

"Andrew is unflappable," she said. "He'll use this as a learning experience."

On Saturday, her son led the Orange to a major upset over then-No. 18 Louisville, 38-35, throwing four touchdown passes to tie a school record held by seven others.

Robinson also came within two yards of the school's single-game passing yardage record of 425 established in 1992 by Marvin Graves against Rutgers. Robinson completed 17 of 26 passes for 423 yards and was named the Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Runner of the Week

Greg Schmid (Towson), Delaware's senior cross country standout, was named the Colonial Athletic Association's Male Runner of the Week for the week ending Sept. 17.

Schmid, the Blue Hens' co-captain, finished third in the University of Delaware 8K Invitational in 26:35. Two weeks ago, he took fourth in the Towson University Invitational with a time of 27:10.

Delaware junior Craig Lebo (Oakland Mills) took 32nd in the Towson race and was 33rd in the Delaware meet.

Contact Bill Free by e-mail at bfree7066@hotmail.com or by phone at 410-833-5349.

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