Top-ranked Loyola needed a true team effort to end No. 2 Calvert Hall's two-year hold on the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference cross country championship.
Matt Jablonski of Loyola won this year's title race, and the Dons put five runners in the top 14 to finish with 38 points and edge the Cardinals by one to win their first A Conference championship in three years Thursday at Oregon Ridge Park.
Jablonski's time of 16 minutes, 14 seconds beat Calvert Hall's Nick Rowe's by just three seconds. The Dons also got good efforts from Matt Erford (third), John Lobo (eighth), Brendan Tizard (12th) and Hugh Monahan (14th).
That was just enough to get past the Cardinals, who also put three in the top 10 - Rowe, Ian Tartal (fourth) and Anthony Valletta (fifth). Steve Hava (11th) and Chris Vesely (17th) rounded out Calvert Hall's top five. The Dons put seven runners in the top 18 overall.
"That was the goal, to get seven in the top 17 or so," Loyola coach Jose Albornoz said. "But Calvert Hall really stepped it up today."
Calvert Hall coach Randy Fowler has been down this road before. His Cardinals also lost by one point to Loyola in the 2006 title race.
"Hats off to Loyola; it's always a war with them," Fowler said. "Everybody gave it a grand effort. We take great pride in trying to peak at the end of the season."
There was confusion over which team won the B Conference title. Information provided to reporters from race officials indicated that St. Mary's won the title, beating second-place St. Paul's by 12 points. During the trophy presentation, however, the championship plaque was presented to St. Paul's. As of late Thursday evening, it still was unclear which team was the official winner. The only thing for sure was that Cory Armes of Lutheran was the top B Conference finisher.