Mount de Sales freshman Juliette Whittaker had been the Sailors’ No. 2 runner for much of this season. Samantha Facius is a senior who won the conference championship last fall and held the top spot during much of this season.
Whittaker said she hoped to get at least second place overall when the Sailors came to McDaniel College for the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference cross country championships on Tuesday. The freshman got her wish — and a little bit more — as she helped Mount de Sales make a bit of history.
Whittaker made a late move in the final half-mile and passed Facius to edge her teammate for the individual title. No. 8 Mount de Sales placed five runners in the top 11 and scored what’s believed to be a meet-record low of 29 points to give the school its first A Conference title, beating out Notre Dame Prep (56).
Facius made a similar late kick last year to win as a junior when they ran the race at Stevenson University. This time, Whittaker stayed close and took her shot in that final half-mile and finished in 19 minutes, 37.71 seconds, just beating Facius (19:39.35).
“I was second in the last mile, and I just made my move,” Whittaker said. “It boosts my [confidence] a lot. It helps me feel like I can win.”
Bella Whittaker (Juliette’s sister, a junior) finished seventh while Elizabeth Freymann (eighth, freshman) and Mackenzie Bell (11th, junior) rounded out Mount de Sales’ top five.
Facius said Mount de Sales had been pointing toward winning this team title since the first day of practice.
“We had this goal in mind the entire season,” Facius said. “Everyone put in the time and effort.”
They also took the time to come up to Westminster and go through the course last week, something that helped them in this race, according to coach Steve Weber.
“We realized that you can’t show your hand at the start,” he said. “They waited until the final long hill, they made their move and opened the gap.”
The bad news for Mount de Sales’ opponents is that four of the team’s top five runners in this race are underclassmen, which means the Sailors could be tough to handle for awhile.
Plus, there’s no question Whittaker will be there. She swam for about eight years before starting to run three years ago. After this success, though, the freshman will be concentrating on the running.
“My swimming career is over,” she said with a smile.
There was one race run overall but the top finishers from the B and C Conferences were declared winners both in the individual and team categories.
In the B Conference, Emily Shorb from Glenelg Country took the top spot in 20:46.27, easily beating out Karenna Laufer from St. Paul’s (21:17.29).
The team title went to St. Mary’s (46), as it put five runners in the top 14 to defeat GCS by 20 points.
Leah Williams from Mercy took first place in the C Conference in 23:03.63, ahead of runner-up Maeve Thistel from Park (23:36.71). But Park needed all of those points as the Bruins edged St. John’s Catholic by one point (71-72).
IAAM Championship Meet
Team scores (top 5): 1. Mount de Sales, 29; 2. Notre Dame Prep, 56; 3. Maryvale, 63; 4. Roland Park, 101; 5. Spalding, 131.
Individual results (top 10): 1. J. Whittaker (MDS), 19:37.71; 2. Facius (MDS), 19:39.35; 3. Merriman (NDP), 20:41.87; 4. Gibson (RP), 20:50.24; 5. Thomas (MAR), 20:57.96; 6. Wayson (NDP), 21:03.69; 7. B. Whittaker (MDS), 21:17.23; 8. Freymann (MDS), 21:42.86; 9. Atticks (MAR), 21:45.49; 10. Gillam (NDP), 21:50.07.
Team scores (top 5): 1. St. Mary’s, 46; 2. Glenelg Country School, 66; 3. St. Paul’s, 100; 4. Severn, 133; 5. AACS, 134.
Individual results (top 10): 1. Shorb (GCS), 20:46.27; 2. Laufer (SP), 21:17.29; 3. Sullivan (CAT), 21:33.68; 4. Jacobs (GCS), 22:05.75; 5. Cote (AAC), 22:31.94; 6. Whynock (SM), 22:38.26; 7. McKenzie (SM), 22:41.50; 8. Gendell (SM), 22:57.28; 9. Christopher (IND), 23:04.80; 10. Nolan (AAC), 23:29.50.
Team scores (top 5): 1. Park, 71; 2. St. John’s Catholic, 72; 3. Friends, 86; 4. Mercy, 105; 5. Beth Tfiloh, 131.
Individual results (top 10): 1. Williams (MER), 23:03.63; 2. Thistel (PAR), 23:36.71; 3. Brisbane (SJC), 23:43.31; 4. Fleming (SJC), 23:54.41; 5. Witcher (GER), 24:34.11; 6. Goodwin (MER), 24:38.37; 7. Hilker (FRI), 24:46.54; 8. Rice (PAR), 25:00.97; 9. Jacoby (PAR), 25:26.19; 10. Clement (GER), 25:26.71.