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Rain ... what rain?

By the way the North Point boys and Leonardtown girls raced in Wednesday’s cross country meet, it was as if both teams possessed amphibious qualities in all the wet weather. Of course, the North Point course did its job too by holding up well amid the constant showers.

Spearheaded by quad-meet champion Tyler Perdue with a personal-best time of 16 minutes 51.47 seconds, the North Point boys (8-1) swept all their competition in victorious form with triumphs of 26-33 over Westlake (5-4), 21-40 over Leonardtown (7-3) and 15-48 over Chopticon (3-8).

The North Point boys, dealing with more inexperience this season than in the recent past yet still feature plenty of talent, rebounded from a five-point loss last week to fellow league power Northern. It was the Eagles’ first loss on the boys side in three years.

Perdue, a senior, just outpaced fellow standout in Westlake junior Jereamy Hall, who finished in 16:52.39, to claim the top individual spot.

“It was a little tricky, but we got out a little fast the first half mile, so I was just trying to keep it going strong going into the woods,” said Perdue, who established a new personal standard by 25 seconds. “I didn’t know what to expect going into the woods [with the course] being muddy or what not, so I was glad to stick with Jereamy the entire race. I wouldn’t say it was pressure [for me to take first place], but I know I wanted to do it for my team.

“I’m just glad to be up there. The course was pretty solid and the footing wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”

North Point head coach Jimmy Ball added, “We knew it was going to rain. I was not going to cancel [the meet]. We couldn’t push it back because we run on Saturday [in the Chaptico Cross Country Invitational at Chaptico Park in Chaptico], then SMAC and regionals is coming up. It was muddy, but it was cool [and comfortable to race in]. If you have the right shoes, [the course is no factor]. The course held up very well.”

Still, Perdue did not expect to have a career-best showing Wednesday given Mother Nature’s impact.

“With the weather being as it was, I thought I’d just run with Jereamy and he pushed me to a good time,” he added. “Not at all [did I think today would yield a personal record], it was a little surprising. I actually liked the temperature. It’s better than a hot day.”

There was only one slick spot on the three-mile course, according to Perdue, where runners experienced any slick conditions and that was on a downhill portion of the trek that can get muddy.

Led by Hall and his twin brother Joshua along with teammate Desi Wiseman, who took fourth (17:25.18) and sixth (18:11.42), respectively, the Westlake boys experienced a solid day. They were only seven points short of North Point and upset Leonardtown, 28-29, while cruising past Chopticon, 19-36.

The North Point boys got top-10 finishes from Justin Golba (17:32.28), Alexander Huibsch (18:12.51), Nicholas Summers (18:23.2) and Quentin Oglesby (18:23.48) in fifth, seventh, ninth and 10th, respectively.

“Those two guys have been my leaders all year,” Ball said of Perdue and Golba. “Inexperience at the beginning [of the year] and to take the group we have and lead them, they’ve done a lot.”

Exciting girls conclusion for first place

The outcome for the best team on the girls side was decided by the closest of margins as Leonardtown eked out a 28-29 win over North Point in a clash of Southern Maryland Athletic Conference titans, the result living up to their billing entering the meet.

Senior Emily Plunkett’s first-place girls finish in 20:25.76 served as the difference-maker for Leonardtown, edging out runner-up Tatiana Ogundeko and third-placer Teghan Simonton, both of North Point.

Ogundeko’s 20:28.63 and Simonton’s 20:37.36 paces were among a trio of North Point girls who arrived in second through fourth place, but it was not enough to overcome Leonardtown.

In addition to Plunkett’s success on the day, the Leonardtown girls took fifth through seventh and 10th through 16th place to pave the way to victory against North Point.

“It was very exciting to win [individually] because it was so unexpected,” Plunkett said after celebrating her second individual top finish this season. “I just tried to stay with those two North Point girls the best I could. I knew that North Point’s No. 1 runner is very good. The rain made it slippery but it wasn’t too bad.”

The Leonardtown girls (10-0) also went on to defeat Chopticon (4-7), 16-47, and Westlake (1-8), 15-50. The North Point (7-2) girls suffered their just second loss on the season with the tight defeat to Leonardtown.

The Eagles beat Chopticon 17-43, and Westlake, 15-50. Chopticon defeated Westlake, 15-50.

“The key to beating North Point was really our [Nos.] 3-7 runners stepping up because every place matters,” added Plunkett, who was expectedly followed by teammate Kelsey Hageman in fifth overall (21:23.74). “I was so happy for everyone.”

Michelle Sutherland (21:34.54), Alsasha Halt (21:37.11), Johanna Becker (22:12.77), Amanda Brady (22:18.46) and Kassidee Boyce (22:39.18) were the Leonardtown girls who finished third through seventh, respectively, on the team, finishing no worse than 12th overall to assure a meet sweep for the Raiders.

“The girls ran a very good team race today. They worked together today better than they have all season,” Leonardtown head coach Rick Hageman said. “Emily Plunkett passed the top North Point runners in the last 800 meters to win the race. She has demonstrated steady improvement all season, and I’m very proud of how she raced today. Ali Halt ran very well today, getting out with the leaders and running with Michelle Sutherland. We were able to put 11 [girls] runners in front of North Point’s No. 5.

“Today’s race emphasized the importance of team running. We had several groups working together throughout the race. We have been discussing the difference between running and racing all season. Today, I believe the entire team was racing and were very determined and gave a very good, gritty performance.”

He added, “As we move into the championship [meets] portion of the season, this win is important in giving them confidence.”

Unlike their female teammates, the Leonardtown boys were on the wrong side of a slim 28-29 outcome to Westlake, though it beat Chopticon, 18-45.

“The boys struggled today and we did not execute as a team,” said Rick Hageman, whose Leonardtown males were led by Stephen Henkel (17:21.22) in third place but only took one other placement in the top 13. “We had several gaps that both North Point and Westlake were able to capitalize upon. We are a very young team and are improving steadily. Our boys gave me a good effort today.”

dcogle@somdnews.com



Cross country box scores

Boys

North Point 15, Chopticon 48; North Point 26, Westlake 33; North Point 21, Leonardtown 40; Westlake 19, Chopticon 36; Westlake 28, Leonardtown 29; Leonardtown 18, Chopticon 45

1. Perdue (NP) 16:51.47, 2. Je. Hall (W) 16:52.39, 3. Henkel (L) 17:21.22, 4. Jo. Hall (W) 17:25.18, 5. Golba (NP) 17:32.28

Girls

Leonardtown 16, Chopticon 47; Leonardtown 15, Westlake 50; Leonardtown 28, North Point 29; North Point 17, Chopticon 43; North Point 15, Westlake 50; Chopticon 15, Westlake 50

1. Plunkett (L) 20:25.76, 2. Ogundeko (NP) 20:28.63, 3. Simonton (NP) 20:37.36, 4. Nueslein (NP) 20:50.09, 5. Hageman (L) 21:23.74