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Hornets junior is champ at 4A East Region meet; runners qualify for state meet

By JAMES A. McCRAY III

Staff writer

When you finish in second place, the only other place to shoot for is first, especially in the case of Great Mills Hornets junior cross-country runner David Strickland.

Earning second place in the Maryland Class 4A East Region meet last season as a sophomore, the only other place to aim for was first in this, his junior season; target acquired.

Strickland took first place on Friday at the 4A East Region meet hosted by South River High School with a time of 16 minutes 23 seconds, six seconds better than second-place finisher Jimmy Shipley of Severna Park, who ultimately won the boys team title with 24 team points.

The North Point Eagles placed second overall with 63 team points, Great Mills finished fifth overall with 127 points and Leonardtown placed seventh overall with 194 points.

However, individually, it was Strickland who earned the region crown.

“I’m still pretty pumped about it because I wanted it really bad,” Strickland said on Monday. “At first, it seemed kind of surreal, almost like, ‘Wow, I actually just did that.’ This is the goal I have been [aiming] for, so it was kind of surreal but exciting at the same time for me.”

And as Strickland qualified for the state tournament to be held at Hereford High School of Baltimore County on Saturday the boys 4A race scheduled to start at 11 a.m. in Parkton he will not be there alone.

His Hornets team qualified as a unit and he will have Kevin DiCola, Jeremy Pence, Brad Post, Robert Romano, Matthew Sebacher and Xavier Stansbury alongside him in the state race.

“Everyone is really supportive because we have a lot of team support,” Strickland added. “It was nice that everybody was celebrating my win, but I made sure to give that back to them, too. It was a good job [by] them, too, because we just [qualified] for states. … It’s just nice all around, our support for each other.”

North Point was able to capture second place overall thanks to two top-10 finishes from Chris Jones (seventh) and Bobby Keim (ninth).

The Eagles were able to place three more runners inside the top 20 including Patrick Jones (14th), Tyler Perdue (16th) and Garrett Davis (17th).

Justin Golba and Craig Prather will join their Eagles counterparts at the state meet on Saturday.

SMAC at the top

After finishing just outside the top 10 at the regional meet last season, North Point senior D’Atra Davis not only cracked the top 10 this season, she was atop it.

Davis won the girls 4A East region meet on Friday, clocking in with a time of 19:54, helping the Eagles girls finish fifth overall as a team with 112 points. Leonardtown placed fourth overall with 106, Great Mills eighth with 209 as Broadneck of Anne Arundel County was crowned girls team champions with 37 points.

Joining Davis for the state meet will include Liesel Davis, Imahni Johnson, Jessica Kirkham, Alexus Reese, Teghan Simonton and Catherine Springer.

Leonardtown senior Rachel LaBatt will lead her Raiders cross country team into Hereford on Saturday after she placed fourth overall individually in the girls race on Friday, finishing the region race in 20:17. LaBatt was one of two Leonardtown runners to finish in the top 10 with teammate Hannah Sweet (20:49) finishing ninth overall.

Diana Aud, Kelsey Hageman, Maggie Nantz, Emily Plunkett and Sam Zarzaca make up the Leonardtown team that will compete for state recognition.

The girls 4A race is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday.

jmccray@somdnews.com