Howard's Thompson Wins With Hat Trick

By Carl Little
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 11, 2007

Howard junior Joey Thompson zoomed off the starting line at Hereford High School yesterday and felt pretty good about his chances. But it wasn't until after he snatched his hat from his head and tossed it behind the orange mesh fence to his father that he knew nobody was going to catch him.

"It was something small, but it gave me a burst of energy," Thompson said.

A first-year cross-country runner, Thompson brought a relative lack of experience into the most critical race of the season, on Maryland's toughest course. But he found success through small motivational tactics and a powerful kick. Thompson successfully negotiated the three-mile course's treacherous hills and won the Maryland 3A championship in 16 minutes 16 seconds, the fastest time of the day and seventh fastest in meet history.

"I don't have the experience, but I know I have the talent to at least keep up with the top runners in the state," Thompson said.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase won the team title with 89 points -- its first since 1973 -- by finishing just one point ahead of two-time defending champion Wilde Lake. Urbana was third with 121 points.

On the girls' side, after claiming its first team title in school history last year in 2A, Howard won its first 3A championship with 69 points, ahead of Hereford (73 points) and Bel Air (125). Team co-captain Elyse Borisko led the Lions with a runner-up finish in 19:40.

Upsets abounded in the other classifications. In 4A, Eleanor Roosevelt's Teshika Rivers outpaced the prerace favorites and ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Britt Eckerstrom of Northwest for about 200 meters down the stretch before overtaking Eckerstrom and pulling out the victory in 19:17.

Rivers became just the latest individual champion from Roosevelt -- Marika Walker (North Carolina State) won in 2005 and '06 -- but the Greenbelt school was denied another team title. The Raiders were runners-up with 97 points, one point behind C.M. Wright and 11 points ahead of Dulaney. Roosevelt was seeking its fourth straight championship.

In the boys' 4A race, Neal Darmody, who has posted some of the fastest times in the state this season, opened up a six-second gap on the field by the mile mark. But the course's largest hill -- a 200-meter plunge-and-climb known as "The Dip" -- brought the Quince Orchard senior back to the pack. Darmody struggled to third place behind teammate David Laratta and Whitman's Andrew Palmer, who won in 16:36.

Still, Quince Orchard won its second straight team championship in dominating fashion, tallying 47 points to outdistance Northwest (117 points) and Severna Park (149).

River Hill swept the boys' and girls' races in 2A. The Hawks placed five girls in the top 15 -- including freshmen Payton Lawrence and Meghan Yi and winner Katie Harman (19:54) -- to score 40 points and finish ahead of Century (66 points) and Mount Hebron (94). The boys won with 57 points and defeated Francis Scott Key (77 points) and Oakland Mills (98).

In 1A, Glenelg's top finisher, Scott Menner, was 17th, but the Gladiators had five runners cross the line in a 17-second span to win their first boys' title since 2002. Glenelg had 77 points, enough to defeat South Carroll (93 points) and Smithsburg (102).

The Future Is Now: For the first time, the meet employed the use of chips on runners' shoes to record times at the finish line.

Dunston Steps Down: Walter Johnson Coach Greg Dunston called it quits yesterday after a 37-year coaching career, the last 21 with the Wildcats. Dunston won four straight girls' state championships from 1996 to '99.

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