Calvert Hall’s Johnson’s edges Loyola’s Gilmore at the wire; but the Dons nip Cardinals for MIAA A XC team title; John Carroll (B) and Friends (C) also win team crowns
by Nelson Coffin
Befitting the ancient and intense rivalry between two boys Catholic schools based in Towson, Calvert Hall and Loyola Blakefield, cross country runners battled down to the wire in the MIAA A Conference championship meet at McDaniel College on Thursday afternoon.
The Dons barely prevailed, 40-42, over the Cardinals to repeat in the team race while Calvert Hall junior Owen Johnson rallied from a 10-yard deficit to nip Loyola senior Camden Gilmore at the finish line by .8 of a second to claim the individual title.
All of this came after a regular season in which the Dons also won the dual meet between the teams, 28-29, although Gilmore missed that showdown with an injury.
Both teams gave it their all in the event that was run on a tricky course on McDaniel’s campus in Westminster, one featuring “so many turns and undulations,” according to Calvert Hall coach Peter Frein.
Times were considerably slower than they were for the 2017 championship meet at Oregon Ridge Park, meaning the runners had to expend more energy while dealing with the quirks of the course.
And nobody did it better than Johnson and Gilmore, buddies who trained together at the beach last summer.
Gilmore decided along the way to turn up the pace a notch or two with about three quarters of a mile to go, building a 10-yard advantage in the process.
“I opened up a pretty good gap,” said the senior whose possible college destinations are either Georgetown or Navy. “When I made that move, I made it with confidence. When I looked back, I didn’t think he would catch me.”
At that point, Johnson said that he wanted to make sure the deficit did not get an longer.
Then, with the finish line looming, the 5-foot-8, 125-pound standout took off in hot pursuit of Gilmore.
With just a couple of yards to go, he drew even and then lunged forward in the last few yards to take the title in 16:22.7 to Gilmore’s 16:23.5.
“I can’t say I’m surprised that I beat him,” Johnson said. “But beating him means a lot to me because he’s a friend and I know how good he is.”
Loyola’s Ronan Sullivan and Kyle Clark finished third and fifth, bracketing fourth-place finisher Ian Coleman of St. Paul’s.
Wyatt Farace (McDonogh), Spencer Doyle (Calvert Hall), Charlie Edwards (Gilman), Daniel Ryan (Calvert Hall) and Ryan Miller (Archbishop Spalding) rounded out the top 10.
Loyola coach Jose Albornoz, who has now won a remarkable 16 titles in his 32 years at the helm, said that due to a cold that afflicted much of the team, the game pan changed to the point that the Dons were just “hoping to survive.”
And to their credit, they did just that by placing three runners in the top five.
However, Albornoz’s strategy to have Gilmore “sit on Owen and then pull away,” only worked until the dramatic final few yards.
Frein said that Johnson was not to be denied.
“It wasn’t a question of his kick, it was about his competitiveness,” Frein said. “It says a lot about Owen that he didn’t give up, because he really wanted to help the team, too. We knew it would be an upset to beat them — but we took them to the brink.”
Gilman (81) finished third and St. Paul’s (116) fourth.
John Carroll repeated in the B Conference, slipping past Severn, 46-40.
Both teams had a slew of top-10 performers, including individual champ Alexander Kirkland (16:40.7), Michael Chipi (4th, 17:32.6), Brian Stancliff (7th, 17:44.5) and Jack Plumer (9th, 18:01.4) for the Patriots and runner-up Robby Dubinski, (17:15.7), Tate Taczak, (3rd, 17:29.02) and Hunter Stein (5th, 17:35.5) for the Admirals.
Park (108) was third and St. Mary’s (111) fourth.
Friends, a runaway winner in last year’s C Conference chase, won going away again.
The Quakers topped second-place St. John’s Catholic Prep, 39-75, behind Henry Griffith (2nd, 17:19.8), Alex Prichett, (5th, 8:20.1),
Ryan Hardy (9th, 18:46.2) and Carter Ruffin (10th, 18:52.4).
Chapelgate Christian Academy’s Stephen Barr was the individual winner in 17:10.0.
Pictured above: Calvert Hall’s Owen Johnson (#97) leads the pack up an early hill, but it was his closing kick that allowed him to run down Loyola’s Camden Gilmore to win the 2018 MIAA Individual cross country title.
MIAA CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
AT MCDANIEL COLLEGE
1. Loyola Blakefield, 40
2. Calvert Hall College, 42
3. Gilman School, 81
4. St. Paul’s School, 116
5. Mount St. Joseph, 122
6. McDonogh School, 149
7. Archbishop Spalding, 175
8. Archbishop Curley, 200
Top 10 individual finishers:
1. Owen Johnson, Calvert Hall College, 16:22.7
2. Camden Gilmore, Loyola Blakefield, 16:23.5
3. Ronan Sullivan, Loyola Blakefield, 16:36.5
4. Ian Coleman, St. Paul’s, 16:51.7
5. Kyle Clark, Loyola Blakefield, 17:06.4
6. Wyatt Farace, McDonogh School, 17:13.3
7. Spencer Doyle, Calvert Hall College, 17:16.8
8. Charlie Edwards, Gilman, 17:17.6
9. Daniel Ryan, Calvert Hall College, 17:23.5
10. Ryan Miller, Severn, 17:23.5.
1. John Carroll School, 46
2. Severn School, 50
3. Park School, 108
4. St. Mary’s, 111
5. Annapolis Area Christian School, 116
6. Glenelg Country School, 126
7. Boys’ Latin School, 186
8. Indian Creek School, 221
Top 10 individual finishers:
1. Alexander Kirkland, John Carroll School, 16:40.7
2. Robby Dubinski, Severn School, 17:15.7
3. Tate Taczak, Severn School, 17:29.02
4. Michael Chipi, John Carroll School, 17:32.6
5. Hunter Stein, Severn School, 17:35.5
6. Thomas Demers, Glenelg Country School, 17:37.2
7. Brian Stancliff, John Carroll School, 17:44.5
8. Lucas Williams, Annapolis Area Christian School, 17:47.4
9. Jack Plumer, John Carroll School, 18:01.4
10. Matthew Hudes, Park School, 18:02.1
1. Friends School, 39
2. Saint John’s Catholic Prep, 75
3. Beth Tfiloh, 97
4. Gerstell Academy, 123
5. St. Vincent Pallotti, 126
6. Saints Peter & Paul, 142
7. Chapelgate Christian Academy, 144
8. Jemicy School, 207
9. Key School, 223
10. Concordia Prep, 258
Top 10 individual finishers:
1. Stephen Barr, Chapelgate Christian Academy, 17:10.0
2. Henry Griffith, Friends School, 17:19.8
3. Ricke Street, St. John’s Catholic Prep, 17:19.8
4. Ben Nevius, Chapelgate Christian Academy, 18:04.7
5. Hunter Steinau, Annapolis Area Christian, 18:20.1
6. Jack Larson, Beth Tfiloh, 18:36.2
7. Fred Bradbury, Saints Peter & Paul, 18:36.7
8. Ethan Rinker, St. Vincent Pallotti, 18:42.7
9. Ryan Hardy, Friends School, 18:46.2
10. Carter Ruffin, Friends School, 18:52.4