Northern High School senior Alexis Wieroniey was having a disappointing postseason right up to the final stretch at the Maryland 3A cross-country championships Saturday.

But Wieroniey--whose two-year unbeaten steak in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference ended at the SMAC meet on Oct. 27--changed the way she'll remember the final races of her high school career in the state meet's final 800 meters at Hereford High School in Parkton.

Wieroniey placed fourth in the state meet, passing Patuxent junior Lillian Ricardo in the final stretch. The two got tangled at the end of the race, and both fell near the finish line. Still, Wieroniey finished the three-mile course in 20 minutes 38.70 seconds, while Ricardo--who defeated Wieroniey in both the SMAC meet and the 3A South Region meet--took fifth in 20:39.40.

Westlake senior Carlos Hunt placed third in the 3A boys race in 16:31.08, leading the Wolverines to a seventh-place finish in team standings. Westlake had 196 points; winner River Hill had 64. In the girls race, Walter Johnson won with 63 points; Patuxent was the top SMAC team in fifth place (160 points), followed by sixth-place Northern (197).

Hunt, who signed with American University after the meet, was followed by Chopticon junior Adrian Hill, who placed ninth in 17:08.12. Great Mills junior William Christian was 10th in 17:20.10, Westlake senior Jose Dory was 19th in 17:33.98 and McDonough seniors Danny Bowes (17:36.90) and Josh Trice (17:41.90) were 21st and 23rd, respectively.

"I felt pretty good the first mile," said Hunt, who got off to a quick start and led midway through the race. "I came out just where I wanted to be, around 5:10 the first mile, but I had some trouble on the hills in the back. That's when [River Hill senior] Mike [Styczynski] passed me. I tried to stay with him, but he was just too tough."

Like Hunt, Ricardo got off to a good start in the girls race and was second around the first turn. She fell to fourth at the 2-mile mark as Walter Johnson senior Jenny Bodine passed her, but she stayed on Bodine's heels the rest of the way and seemed poised to finish fourth.

That's when Wieroniey made her move. After closing the gap in the final 800 meters, Wieroniey passed Ricardo 10 yards from the finish line.

"My past two races, I just left them feeling like I didn't do my best, and it was kind of disappointing," said Wieroniey, who finished more than a minute behind Ricardo at the SMAC and region meets. "This was the last chance I had, so I'm glad I could end it this way."

Said Ricardo: "I think I could have done a little better, especially at the end, but I'm happy with my performance. I didn't know Alexis was behind me until she passed me at the end. I'm not sure how we got tangled up. She cut in front of me, and I think my knee went up under her foot and tripped her. There was nothing she could do. It was just an accident."

Patuxent freshman Susan Hendrick placed 10th in 21:19.67, La Plata freshman Tracy Warring was 12th in 21:21.28 and Calvert junior Megan Darr finished 13th in 21:22.46. Leonardtown juniors Kathleen Dunscomb (21:45.35) and Heidi Faller (22:04.54) were 19th and 23rd, respectively.

CAPTION: Westlake senior Carlos Hunt placed third at the state 3A cross-country meet, held Saturday at Hereford High School in Parkton. He then signed a letter of intent to attend American University.

CAPTION: Northern's Alexis Wieroniey finished fourth, after two straight disappointing races.