Running in the Seahawk Invitational at South River High School in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 7, Zachary Wedding finished 10th overall to lead all Chopticon runners, beating his brother Jeffrey to the line by 2.1 seconds.
On Wednesday afternoon in their Southern Maryland Athletic Conference opener against visiting Great Mills and La Plata, Jeffrey turned the tables on his brother, navigating the course and the steamy conditions in a time of 17 minutes 14.54 seconds to win the boys race and lead the Braves to a sweep of their guests.
Chopticon’s boys (2-0 overall) defeated Great Mills 15-47 and La Plata 15-46. The Hornets (1-1) earned a split with a 25-32 win against the Warriors (0-2).
Zachary Wedding finished second in 17:42.22, while Blake Davis was third (19:02.69) and Douglas Hoover took fourth (19:08.72) to lead the Chopticon effort.
“It was really hot, so we had to prepare a lot and drink probably more water than usual today,” Jeffrey Wedding said. “I started slower than normal because of the heat. I think I was about a 5:15 mile. I’m normally a little faster than that, but it was a good race.”
The sibling rivalry the Weddings bring to the course helps both push themselves, according to Jeffrey, though he typically has to make up ground as races progress.
“We’re always trying to beat each other in races,” he said. “I know we push each other a lot in practices. He normally starts off way faster than me, so it’s normally me that has to catch up to him in the races.”
Zachary actually wanted to keep a little more in reserve in the conditions on Wednesday, but got off to a fast start and watched his brother run away from him in the final stages of the race.
“I go out fast, went out a little faster than I would have liked, like 4:57, 4:58 the first mile,” Zachary said. “I was hoping to be maybe around 5:10ish. After the first mile, I wasn’t feeling the best. It was pretty hot today, so I could definitely feel it. I had to drink more than usual to prepare for this.”
After running through the 2018 regular season with a spotless record, Zachary has high hopes for his team as it navigates through the conference slate again this year.
“I’m excited for this season,” he said. “Last year we went 13-0. I believe we can go 13-0 this year as long as we work hard and keep pushing at practice. We’re definitely looking for that SMAC title and regional title. States would be harder, but top three at states would be good for us. Looking forward to a good season.”
La Plata was paced by Tyler Connolly, who was listed in sixth with a time of 19:19.94. Jeremiah Rhoton was listed as the fastest boys finisher for Great Mills in 19:27.93.
With just five runners a season ago, the Great Mills girls had just enough runners to comprise a team score at meets if every runner was healthy. This year, the number have more than doubled, which was an exciting development for Cooper Brotherton, who won Wednesday’s girls race in 20:10.15.
“Our team is a lot bigger this year, so we were really excited to run our first meet and see how well our conditioning would apply to the race,” Brotherton said. “It was definitely a flatter course than we’re used to. It really helps with kind of pacing ourselves and knowing how to start the season off to hopefully improve our race. ... I’m definitely excited because our team is now 11 girls. Last year we only had about five. So sometimes we had injuries and got disqualified from races. So this year we’re really looking forward to a healthy, strong team competing.”
Brotherton’s first-place effort led the Hornets (2-0) to a pair of wins, as they topped Chopticon 23-32 and La Plata 18-37. The Braves (1-1) salvaged a split with a 20-36 victory over the Warriors (0-2).
Following Brotherton to the finish line was Chopticon’s Blair Fowler (21:27.84) in second. Great Mills rounded out the top five, with Sophie Chan (21:53.14), Jolie Ganzell (23:16.05) and Sara Fletcher (23:58.24) finishing in spots three through five. La Plata’s Margaret Stine was the Warriors’ top finisher, completing the course in eighth in 25:46.62.