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North Point boys take fifth in 4A states; C. Jones sixth, Keim seventh; Stone’s Johnston ninth

By AJ MASON

Staff writer

PARKTON Many runners experienced the grueling three-mile course on Saturday at the state cross country championships at Hereford High School in Baltimore County.

From the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, two boys teams finished in the top six in the state while four runners finished in the top 10 and one in the top 20.

Seniors Chris Jones and Bobby Keim capped of the season with sixth- and seventh-place finishes, respectively, in the Class 4A boys race to help lead the North Point boys to a fifth-place finish in the state with 185 points, the best finish in program history.

“My legs felt so tired and Bobby was right behind me,” said Jones, who finished in 16 minutes 48 seconds. “This is my eighth time running on this course and we put up a good fight today. Severna Park is always a tough team, but I’m happy with my time.”

Keim came right behind Jones in 16:49.9.

“This is the toughest course in the state. There was a big fall in the beginning, but everyone ran a good race,” Keim said. “I started off conservative, then when a gap opened up, I took it. What a way to finish out the season strong.”

Severna Park of Anne Arundel County, also the 4A East Region champions, had three runners finish in the top 10 and six in the top 20 to win the 4A meet with 47 points.

“I’m thrilled for the [boys] team, they’ve been consistent,” North Point head coach Jimmy Ball said. “I wanted all the kids to feel like they did their best when they left here today. The boys have had a great season, they are the winningest boys group that I’ve had. This is what you strive for and they did it.”

Great Mills, which finished 15th in the 4A boys race with 323 points, was led by junior David Strickland, the 4A East Region champion, who came to the finish line in 18th overall at 17:11.8. Senior Xavier Stansbury finished in the top 40 for the Hornets.

“I hit the first mile and when I got to the dip, I got tired,” Strickland said. “Chris and Bobby really pushed me. My finish was OK, this was my best finish at states ever. I was happy with the season overall and being a region champ.”

In 3A, Northern took sixth as a team with 214 points, while Hereford had five runners in the top 20 and won the meet with 52 points. Thomas Stone (18th, 480), Huntingtown (21st, 579) and Westlake (22nd, 584) all finished in the top 25.

Northern senior Justin Cerrito took 11th overall, while junior teammate Scott Carpenter was right behind him in 12th.

“The first mile was very quick, and me and Scott finished in the top 15 [overall],” Cerrito said. “Our team achieved something great by coming in fifth and being region champs. I improved from the Bull Run [Invitational], it was a good year.”

Cerrito (16:58.4) and Carpenter were separated by just two-tenths of a second.

“The 3A is extremely deep and the talent pool has grown,” said Northern head coach T.J. Howell, who led the boys to their fifth straight 3A South Region title. “Justin and Scott ran a fantastic race and broke 17. The boys team did really well this season and to get sixth in the state was a great accomplishment.”

Thomas Stone’s Brendan Johnson, the SMAC and 3A South Region champion, finished his stellar postseason by finishing ninth overall with a time of 16:37.8, his second best time of the season. Johnson ran a 15:47 at the Track and Trail Invitational in September.

“I knew it was 10 guys that could win that race,” Johnson said. “Around the mile and-a-half mark, I pushed it and held that position. It was a great season and this is a springboard to [indoor] season.”

“That’s a great time for Hereford, I’m proud that he came in the top 10 in the state of Maryland,” Stone head coach Butch Landis said. “The school has rallied behind him and he’s worked hard to set his goals.”

Also in 3A, Westlake senior Darren White took 54th for the team’s best finish, and La Plata’s best overall finish for boys came from Nicholas Hill with 67th-place overall finish. Huntingtown senior Chris Casavecchia took 89th overall in the race.

In the 2A race, Patuxent finished 10th with 277 points. Catoctin of Frederick County claimed the boys title with 77 points and had three runners in the top 10. Calvert tied for the 17th spot in the meet with Long Reach of Howard County (468).

Patuxent sophomore Trent Herzog, the 2A South Region champion, took eighth overall with a time of 17.12.2.

“I got 25th last year and I finished in the top 10 this year,” Herzog said. “I went out slow at the start and picked it up at the end. I’ve put a lot of mileage in this season. By my senior year, I hope I can win states.”

“He ran like he wanted to and by midseason he just hit another level,” Patuxent head coach Blaine Mably said. “He’s been dedicated and really helped lead the boys team.”

ajmason@somdnews.com