Maryland cross-country: Walter Johnson’s Scott Sheehan pulls of surprising victory

November 12, 2011

Scott Sheehan muscled his way to the first state title of his career Saturday at the Maryland 4A cross-country championships, scoring a victory that was both a head-scratcher and a hair-raiser.

In four years on the team, the Walter Johnson senior had never won a major race. But after hanging with the favorites much of the way Saturday, Sheehan gritted his teeth and blasted into the lead before winning in 16 minutes 28 seconds on the difficult three-mile course at Hereford High.

Quince Orchard senior Evan Laratta was runner-up in 16:35.

“I was not expecting this,” Sheehan said of his thrilling victory, in which he pulled away from three other runners during the final half-mile.

Walter Johnson looked all season like it had taken a step back after graduating two All-Mets from last year’s team, but the Bethesda school captured its fourth straight team title ahead of Severna Park and Churchill. Behind Sheehan and senior teammate Josh Ellis, the Wildcats became the third boys’ team in history to win four straight state titles.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase won the girls’ 4A title over defending champion Whitman. Severna Park was third.

In 3A, the girls from Hereford easily defeated River Hill and Urbana. Hereford also won the boys’ team title over Linganore and Wilde Lake.

In 2A, Poolesville had the top boys’ team from the area, finishing third behind Williamsport and champion Winters Mill. Calvert was the top area girls’ team, finishing sixth; Century won for the third year in a row.

No area teams or individuals reached the podium or earned all-state honors in 1A.

Linganore senior Braden Bruning missed about eight weeks of the season with a sprained ankle, but was agile in winning the boys’ individual 3A title with the fastest time of the day. The Maryland recruit passed Thomas Johnson senior Hasan Omar in the last 800 meters before crossing in 16:20. Omar was runner-up in 16:22.

Winters Mill senior Hannah Oneda set a course record while winning the girls’ 2A title. She hardly looked like she was trying as she sped through one of the most difficult courses on the East Coast in 18:28. That time shattered the previous mark of 18:52 set by Quince Orchard’s Karen Pulliam in 2000.

In a hotly contested girls’ 4A race, Whitman senior Caroline Guiot got the better of Churchill freshman standout Lucy Srour. Srour, who was undefeated against Maryland runners until losing to Guiot last week at the region meet, led three other runners, including Guiot, as they climbed the course’s biggest hill for the last time.

But Guiot had a little more left in the tank and she used it to pass Srour in the final half-mile of the race and win in 19:27. Srour was runner-up in 19:36.

One freshman did manage to nab a state title. Urbana’s Emily Mulhern beat Hereford sophomore Sara Cater to the line by five seconds in 19:53.

“The hills were so tough,” Mulhern, 14, said. “There were some practices where I just said ‘I can’t do this.’ But I put in so much hard work and it feels awesome.”

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