A cross country team needs consistent times from its top seven runners to find suitable placement at the end of a race.
When Severna Park became infected with a pesky injury bug that would not go away, coach Josh Alcombright needed somebody to step up.
Enter Chris Nunn, the distance runner who sprinted to the opportunity to become the program’s glue guy and its leader — and now the 2022 Capital Gazette boys cross country Runner of the Year.
“He literally ran away with it,” said Alcombright, who’s coached the Falcons for 17 years on the opportunity presented to Nunn.
Nunn was not a loud or boisterous leader. He made his presence known with his performances. His times improved by more than a minute over the past two seasons.
“He doesn’t need to say much,” Alcombright said. “He soaks up a lot of knowledge and things like that. He did very well … when the opportunity to lead the team came up, he came up huge.”
He was leading workouts and cheering on his teammates and trying to make them as good as they can be. That involved making sure they were in the right headspace and assisting them in devising race strategies.
Undeterred by the setbacks of injuries, Nunn’s times glistened on the results sheet, posting a fourth-place finish of 17 minutes, 6.01 seconds in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Class 4A championship meet in November, leading his team to a state championship.
“He raised his level an extra notch that we needed,” Alcombright said. “I think he was always determined to do that but maybe (the injuries) gave him a little extra push.”
Nunn said he felt most confident as a runner this past season. He established himself as a powerful cross country runner in the state and the pieces fell into place setting him up for a successful senior season.
“I was getting faster like I should be and workouts felt like they were going well,” Nunn said. “Everything just felt comfortable.”
He said a particular race that stood out was the 4A East Regional in November when he ran 16:37.8.
He aimed for around 5:20 per mile in the regional race, which he said was reasonable so he could separate himself from the rest of the pack later on. He was not worried about his legs giving out and never felt like he was in trouble.
“I knew I had a shot at the win and so I went out early, took the lead and I let them sit on me and tried to carry the pace,” Nunn said.
Coach of the Year
Josh Alcombright, Severna Park
Alcombright one again got the Falcons to peak when it counted. Chris Nunn and Taylor Jarvis led the way as Severna Park captured its fifth straight Class 4A state championship and eighth overall.
Alcombright knew Nunn was capable of a top five finish, but did not necessarily expect Jarvis to place sixth. Those two single-digit results were crucial as Severna Park posted a low score of 100 points, 12 better than runner-up Winston Churchill.
“Jarvis finishing that high really solidified our position,” he said.
“This state title was all about resilience because we faced a lot of adversity this season,” Alcombright said. “This was a gritty one. Our guys really fought for this one.”
Alex Lecouras, Caden Lazzor, Ty Maddox and Leo Havens were other key runners for the Falcons, who also secured the Class 4A East Region crown and won the Anne Arundel County championship meet by a whopping 34 points. Severna Park saved its best for last by taking care of business on the difficult course at Hereford High.
“Our runners trust in their teammates and coaches that they will be able to get the job done on that course on that day. Success breeds success,” Alcombright said.
All-county first team
Tyler Bickel, South River, senior
Finished seventh at the Anne Arundel County championships with a time of 16:59.2. Placed eighth at the Class 4A East Region meet.
Taylor Jarvis, Severna Park, junior
Crossed the finish line on the heels of teammate Chris Nunn at the Class 4A state championships, finishing sixth in 17:13.9. Runner-up at county championships and eighth in the East Region.
Zaiden Lane, Arundel, junior
Anne Arundel County champion followed that result by placing third at the East Region meet. Placed eighth at the Class 4A state championship meet with a time of 17:19 flat.
Fox Larson, Broadneck, junior
Placed sixth at the Class 4A East Region meet. Came across 13th at the county championships and 20th at the Class 4A state meet.
Alex Lecouras, Severna Park, senior
Finished fifth at the Anne Arundel County championships and 13th at the Class 4A state meet with a time of 17:35.8.
Daniel Murray, Arundel, senior
Finished ninth at the Anne Arundel County championships and 11th at the East Region meet. Was the 28th finisher at the Class 4A state meet with a time of 17:59.8.
Alex Paciello, Chesapeake, junior
Placed third at both the Anne Arundel County championship and the Class 3A South Region meet. Came across 19th at the Class 3A state championships with a time of 17:23.4.
Malachi Quinn, Annapolis, sophomore
Placed 14th at the Anne Arundel County championships and 16th at the East Region meet. Finished 24th at the Class 4A state meet.
Benjamin Hair, South River, senior
Matthew Hieatzman, Northeast, sophomore
Thomas Hinton, Spalding, senior
Ethan Howe, Arundel, junior
Owen Infante, South River, sophomore
Caden Lazzor, Severna Park, sophomore
London Layton, Crofton, junior
Erik Maltz, Severn, sophomore
Eric Penkala, Southern, sophomore
Cody Smith, Severna Park, senior
Ben Sterner, Broadneck, junior
Jamison Wildt, Severn, junior
Staff writer Bill Wagner contributed to this article.