When Bowie freshman Joy Brookeshire won the girls developmental race by over a minute at the Spiked Shoe Cross Country Invitational at Johns Hopkins University recently, it was more than just a good race. It was an omen of things to come in Maryland Class AA cross country.
In the boys 5,000 meter championship, it wasn't until the final quarter mile that Bowie lost to Loyola by a scant five points, 72-77.
Junior John Kipfer and senior Gary Miller paced Bowie, finishing third and fifth. But Loyola's top three runners finished sixth, seventh and ninth, and ended Bowie for the title, 72-77.
"We lost the race at the end. We got beat over the last 300 yards," said Coach Joe Clark, shaking his head. "We're a pack running team, but we sort of fell apart the last 300 yards."
Last Saturday at Arundel, however, the pack held together with Miller winning the big-school race in 16:29. His teammates followed suit, defeating runner-up Rockville, 47-50. Kipfer and Doug Mock ran fourth and fifth.
Bowie's girls, despite their relative youth (only one senior in the top five), were never challenged in their championship quest at Johns Hopkins. Senior Natalee Kavetski, despite being misdirected to a longer route on the course, paced the Bulldogs with a third-place finish, one step ahead of freshman teammate Robin Quinlon. The rest of Bowie's scoring runners finished among the first 21 places and the Bulldogs scored 63 points to Whitman's 71.
"They're all young," said Clark of his girls team, "but they've been around a while. Except for the freshmen, they've all been running steadily and they run well together, which is what we emphasize."
At Arundel, Kavetski stayed on course and battled Westminster's Amy Harden the entire 2 1/4-mile race, finishing second by a step. The team scores went the same route. Westminster defeated Bowie, 39-54. Having proved herself the week before, Brookshire moved up to varsity this time, running 12th overall, fourth for the Bulldogs.
Group running is the key to success for both Bowie squads. Clark asserts that when they're running well, his first five boys are separated by no more then 10 to 15 seconds.
"We're a group running team," Clark said. "After the first two, there's a tight pack of five. But today (at Hopkins) they tailed off at the end. It's so important they know their running place on the team."
The boys and girls teams are among the largest ever at Bowie (23 for the girls), a phenomenon perhaps influenced by their third-place finishes in the state last year. The recent excursion to Baltimore was just supposed to be an evaluation of early-season progress on a road-racing course. Although both squads came away with top marks in that category, the presence of many other AA teams (10 of 26 boys and girls teams) added a little spice to Clark's diagnosis of late-season potential.