Cross-Country

Despite winning the Northwestern Region girls cross-country title last fall, Hylton junior Richelle Plotz had never won an invitational--until yesterday.

Plotz won the inaugural Panther Path Invitational girls individual title at Patuxent High School in 20 minutes 50 seconds, a record for the 3.1-mile course.

With Plotz leading the way, the Bulldogs placed all five of its runners in the top 15 and won the girls team title. Junior Katie Golden (third, 21:06), senior Zorina Hess (eighth, 22:16), freshman Jamissa Hess (ninth, 22:21) and junior Shaina Ambrose (12th, 22:35) helped Hylton defeat Langley, 33-50.

Potomac captured the boys team title, defeating South Lakes, 52-68. Four Potomac runners--senior Jason Lewis (second, 16:54), senior Jamaal Saunders (fourth, 17:11), junior Erik Uribe (seventh, 18:01) and senior Jimmy Thayer (10th, 18:01)--helped the Panthers to their first invitational boys team title in two years.

"We have not run an invitational yet, so I wanted to see where we're at," Potomac Coach Bill Stearns said. "It was good to run against someone [South Lakes All-Met junior Alan Webb] that good."

Hylton finished fourth in the boys team race with 101 points.

Webb, last year's All-Met cross-country performer of the year, shattered the course record in winning the boys individual title, crossing the line in 16:07. Senior Carlos Hunt of Westlake set the previous course record (17:59) last year.

As for Plotz, she bettered Northern senior Alexis Wieroniey's year-old mark by exactly one minute.

"I think I'm a strength runner, and there were a lot of hills so I could take advantage of that," Plotz said.

Plotz used that strength to pull away from three other runners with a quarter-mile left. In the final 100 yards, she pulled away from Potomac senior Johanna Allen, who was running her first cross-country meet for the Panthers, to win by 10 seconds.

"I was a little worried," about Allen, Plotz said. "Since I knew Johanna was a sprinter, I had to take it out in the hills."