Calvert Hall places four runners in top five to hoist first MIAA A Conference XC trophy since 2008; Johnson repeats as individual champ; Friends (C) and John Carroll (B) also earn team titles

by Nelson Coffin

Calvert Hall senior Owen Johnson crosses the finish line 20 seconds ahead of his closest pursuer, Archbishop Spalding senior Ryan Miller, in the MIAA A Conference championship cross country meet Tuesday at McDaniel College.

More than a decade after Calvert Hall last tasted victory at the MIAA A Conference championship cross country meet, the Cardinals had a feast at the event held at McDaniel College in Westminister on Tuesday afternoon.

Coach Peter Frein’s squad, led by two-time individual champ Owen Johnson, placed four of the top five runners to score 27 points to top runner-up Gilman (66) and third-place Loyola Blakefield (98).

Without ever being pushed, Johnson breezed home in 16:20, two seconds faster than he posted in edging Loyola standout Camden Gilmore last year by .08 of a second.

Johnson trained with Gilmore last summer, and will become teammates at Georgetown with him next fall.

Archbishop Spalding senior Ryan Miller (16:40) was second, followed by Johnson’s teammates, junior Nick Gonzalez (3rd, 17:02), senior Connor Paszkiewicz (4th, 17:05.1) and Andrew Myers (5th, 17:05.6).

“I wanted to get some good separation in the beginning,” Johnson said. “I ran the downhills really hard. My run wasn’t as choppy as it was last year.”

Gilman placed three runners in the top 11 — senior Thomas Broadus (6th, 17:07), junior Beck Wittstadt (7th, 17:08) and senior Charlie Edwards (11th, 17:23).

Edwards said that finishing ahead of Spalding was the Greyhounds’ goal coming into the meet.

“We knew that Calvert Hall was untouchable,” he said. “But we felt if we could finish ahead of Spalding, who beat us during the season, we could do well. Our depth really helped us.”

Edwards said that when he passed Loyola sophomore Irenge Nkere in the final 400 meters, it helped his team’s quest to finish behind only the Cardinals.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been at our near the top,” he said. “So it means a lot to know that Gilman can be considered a threat in MIAA cross country.”

Meanwhile, Johnson said that the Cardinals’ goal from the beginning of the year was to win a championship that had eluded the program for so long, including last year’s two-point loss to Loyola and a second-place showing in 2016.

Friends’ Henry Griffith, with head coach Ken Fowler, finished third overall and led his team to its fifth straight C Conference title.

Frein said that the seniors have been building toward reaching their ultimate goal sine they were freshmen.

“They came into the program with no real knowledge about what it would take,” he said. “But I saw their potential from day one. They’re an excitable bunch, and they’ve gotten closer to each other every year. It’s really cool see how far they have come from where they started until now.”

Frein said the plan for Johnson was to have a conservative first mile and then “go to work on the turns” to give his star some separation from Miller.

The coach said that the other top CHC finishers are “taught to run in a pack” to maximize their point production.

“This has been building for a long time,” he said.

John Carroll claimed the B Conference crown behind Michael Chipi (2nd, 17:03) and freshman Nick Singleakis (3rd, 17:04), who finished behind Hunter Steinau (16;57) of Annapolis Area Christian School.

Friends won the C Conference with a fine performances by senior Henry Griffith (16:51), the C Conference individual champ.

A Conference team results
1.) Calvert Hall College, 27
2.) Gilman School, 66
3.) Loyola Blakefield, 98
4.) Mount St. Joseph, 107
5.) Archbishop Spalding, 107
6.) St. Paul’s School, 115
7.) McDonogh School, 183
8.) Archbishop Curley, 219

B Conference team results
1.) John Carroll, 54
2.) Severn, 84
3.) St. Mary’s, 101
4.) Boys’ Latin, 108
5.) Park, 111
6.) Annapolis Area Christian School, 117
7.) Glenelg Country School, 123
8.) Indian Creek, 200

C Conference team results
1.) Friends, 27
2.) St. John’s Catholic Prep, 78
3.) Gerstell Academy, 98
4.) Jemicy, 110
5.) Key School, 136
6.) Beth Tfiloh, 153
7.) St. Vincent Pallotti, 153
8.) Sts. Peter and Paul, 158
9.) Chapelgate 212

Click here to view the complete team and individual results.