Calvert Hall's Owen Johnson wins race, Loyola defends team title at MIAA cross country championships

For The Baltimore Sun

The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference cross country championship race was close — in more ways than one.

Owen Johnson of Calvert Hall made a late move to win the race, edging Camden Gilmore of defending champion Loyola Blakefield by less than one second. The Cardinals were hoping that might spur them on to a team victory.

No. 5 Calvert Hall made it close thanks to Johnson and others, but No. 2 Loyola held on and scored a two-point victory to win its second consecutive MIAA A Conference title in the meet held Wednesday at McDaniel College in Westminster.

Johnson tried to stay with Gilmore as long as possible. The Calvert Hall junior had beaten the Loyola senior just once and wanted to try and reverse that trend.

With about 5 yards left, Gilmore still held a slight lead before Johnson pushed forward and got past him. Johnson nudged past Gilmore in the final steps to win in a time of 16 minutes, 22.7 seconds. Gilmore finished at 16:23.5.

“Right towards the end, I saw him look back,” Johnson said. “I thought he might be tired, and I started sprinting.”

Calvert Hall coach Peter Frein was delighted at his runner’s last-second comeback.

“Most kids would give up in that situation, but not him,” Frein said. “Owen is a fighter.”

Johnson took fifth last year — Gilmore was fourth — as Loyola edged Mount Saint Joseph for the team title. The Cardinals were hoping his effort might bring them a team title, but they came up a bit short.

Both teams placed three runners in the top 10, but Loyola ended up with 40 points, enough for a two-point victory over Calvert Hall.

Loyola coach Jose Albornoz was proud of how his team battled through a bit of a health issue that showed up in recent days.

“Several of our runners had colds,” Albornoz said. “We changed our race plan a little bit today. Four of the five were with colds, but Calvert Hall ran phenomenally well. Our guys did great, and I’m glad we got out of here with [the trophy].”

Gilmore had been battling a cold himself the last few days and felt better during the race.

“I don’t think that being sick did too much to the team,” Gilmore said. “But it did affect us.”

Ronan Sullivan (third), Kyle Clarke (fifth), Connor Verrett (13th) and Hayden Roberts (17th) rounded out Loyola’s top five. For Calvert Hall, Spencer Doyle (seventh), Daniel Ryan (ninth), Nick Gonzalez (11th) and Joshua Scheid (14th) finished out the Cardinals’ scoring group.

There was just one race overall, but the top finishers in the MIAA B and C Conferences — both individuals and teams — were recognized for their efforts in this run.

In the B Conference, Alexander Kirkland of John Carroll was the top finisher in 16:40.7, scoring a big victory over Severn’s Robby Dubinski (17:15.7). This was a reversal of last year, when Dubinski took first while Kirkland got second.

John Carroll placed four runners in the top nine to beat Severn, 46-50. Severn finished with two in the top 10 and took 14th through 18th place, but it was not enough. Last year, John Carroll topped Severn by five points, so the Patriots repeated as conference champions.

Friends also repeated as the C Conference champion. The Quakers put four runners in the top 10 and finished with 39 points, easily beating out St. John’s Catholic (75).

Stephen Barr of Chapelgate won the race in a time of 17:10.0. He beat Henry Griffith of Friends (17:19.8). Griffith also finished second last year. For the Quakers, it also was a repeat of last fall's rout, when they rolled to a 52-point win over Gerstell.

This time around, Friends put its top five runners in the top 13, and that was more than enough for an easy victory.

MIAA Championships

(at McDaniel College)

A Conference

Team scores (top 5): 1. Loyola, 40; 2. Calvert Hall, 42; 3. Gilman, 81; 4. St. Paul’s, 116; 5. Mount Saint Joseph, 122.

Individual results (top 10): 1. Johnson (CH), 16:22.7; 2. Gilmore (LOY), 16:23.5; 3. Sullivan (LOY), 16:36.5; 4. Coleman (SP), 16:51.7; 5. Clarke (LOY), 17:06.4; 6. Farace (MCD), 17:13.3; 7. Doyle (CH), 17:16.8; 8. Edwards (GIL), 17:17.6; 9. Ryan (CH), 17:23.5; 10. Miller (SPA), 17:23.5.

B Conference

Team scores (top 5): 1. John Carroll, 46; 2. Severn, 50; 3. Park, 100; 4. St. Mary’s, 111; 5. Annapolis Area Christian, 111.

Individual results (top 10): 1. Kirkland (JC), 16:40.7; 2. Dubinski (SEV), 17:15.7; 3. Taczak (SEV), 17:29.2; 4. Chipi (JC), 17:32.6; 5. Steinau (AAC), 17:33.5; 6, Demers (GCS), 17:37.2; 7. Stancliff (JC), 17:44.5; 8. Williams (AAC), 17:47.4; 9. Plumer (JC), 18:01.4; 10. Hudes (PAR), 18:02.1.

C Conference

Team scores (top 5): 1. Friends, 39; 2. St. John’s Catholic, 75; 3. Beth Tfiloh, 97; 4. Gerstell, 123; 5. Pallotti, 126.

Individual results (top 10): 1. Barr (CHA), 17:10.0; 2. Griffith (FR), 17:19.8; 3. Streett (SJ), 17:58.1; 4. Nevius (CHA), 18:04.7; 5. Prichett (FR), 18:20.1; 6. Larson (BT), 18:36.2; 7. Bradbury (SPP), 18:36.7; 8. Rinker (PAL), 18:42.7; 9. Hardy (FR), 18:46.2; 10. Ruffin (FR), 18:52.4.

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