The Eleanor Roosevelt girls' cross-country team won the 4A South Region title, and senior standout Crystal Anyanwu claimed the individual title Thursday at Fort Washington National Park. But the less-than-convincing team victory was something that the Raiders will remember as Saturday's state championship race nears.

"This was a big wake-up call for the girls," Robertson said. "I think they thought they could walk into the race without having been prepared and won it. The girls are upset with themselves."

Roosevelt swept the boys' and girls' competitions on a Fort Washington course that had to be revised and extended to 3.2 miles because of mud. The top three teams and top 15 runners for both boys and girls in the 4A South Region advance to the Maryland state championship race Saturday at Hereford High in Parkton.

Seniors John Witter (18 minutes 10 seconds), Ronnie Greenfield (18:28) and Dvon Jackson (18:39) finished third through fifth to lead the way. Senior Taylor Casey was 10th as the Raiders pulled out a decisive win.

Bowie senior Peter Ramdial won the race in 17:28. Ramdial has not lost to a county opponent this season.

Anyanwu won the girls' race in 21:09, and the Raiders had 32 points. Largo junior Sirdonea Davis (22:25) was second, and the Lions finished second with 47 points. Bowie senior Jessica Williams (22:26) took third to lead the Bulldogs to third place.

The Raiders had one more warmup race, the Prince George's County Championship on Monday, which ended too late to be included in this edition.

"Our kids are behind, because there has been so little practice in the last four weeks," Robertson said. "But a lot of girls thought they could do better this week."

In the 2A South Region, also run Thursday, the top three girls' teams and the top four boys' teams qualified for the state meet, as well as the top 15 individuals in each race.

Bladensburg senior Fikru Gebrehiwat finished sixth and Potomac senior Jerimiah Lowry was 13th in a time of 19:42 to qualify for the state meet. Central senior Tiffany McPhatter was sixth in the girls' race, and junior teammate Tobie Hamilton was 13th. Marquita Watson of Duval finished 12th.

-- Sean P. Flynn

Stickles, Wildcats Bow Out For the first time this season, the Northwestern boys' soccer team had nearly all of its starters on the field for a Maryland 4A South quarterfinal game against Bowie on Friday. Ten of 11 starters were healthy, but despite the bolstered squad, the Wildcats lost, 2-1, in a closely contested game at Bowie. The Wildcats finished the season 6-6.

"It was a wonderful soccer game, one of the classics," Northwestern Coach Tom Stickles said. "The conditions were pretty bad, but the intensity of play was beyond out of control."

Bowie took a 1-0 lead in the first half, but junior forward Ever Carcamo tied the game midway through the second half for the Wildcats. Bowie's game-winning goal came when a cross from the right side of the field slipped past junior goalkeeper Felix Blanco.

"The ball moved across the line through a hole that was the size of the diameter of the ball," Stickles said. "They had the better of us in the first half, but I think we had the better of them in the second half."

It was the last game for Stickles, who is retiring at the end of the year. He was the head coach at Northwestern for 40 years, and amassed approximately 400 wins.

"There are some old coots out there, but 40 years, I don't know if that tenure will be challenged," Stickles said. "[DeMatha basketball coach] Morgan Wootten, and people like myself, we're dinosaurs. I would be shocked to see a coach survive 40 years in any sport."

-- Colin Fitzgibbons

Pallotti Makes Leap Forward The Pallotti volleyball team had a simple goal this season: improve on last year's 3-16 mark. But as the victories piled up, the Panthers kept revising their goals. First, they aimed for a .500 record. After their ninth win, they turned their sights to a first-place finish in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Blue Division. With that goal accomplished, the Panthers then looked toward the postseason, hoping for a championship in the IAAM B tournament.

Although Pallotti just missed on that final goal -- falling to John Carroll in the tournament championship -- the Panthers were still more than satisfied with their 15-4 finish.

"As we started winning, we just said, 'Let's go all the way and win everything,' " senior setter Amanda Greechan said. "It changed from, 'Let's just do a little better,' to 'Let's do 10 times better.' "

The Panthers were led by a new coach -- Nicole Silver -- and a dynamic new outside hitter -- senior Carly Silver, who had previously played soccer. (The Silvers are half-sisters.) But Nicole Silver attributed the turnaround to a change in attitude.

"I think the girls were ready; they didn't want to be 3-16 anymore," she said. "They came in early, they stayed late; they did whatever they could do to get the job done."

The Panthers had four senior starters this season, but digs leader Carissa Taylor and blocks leader Megan Clark, both juniors, will return.

Despite this year's ever-changing goals, senior setter Amy Gromen said the players had an early premonition of success when they saw their new coach's enthusiasm and expertise.

"We weren't really surprised [by the wins], because from the beginning we knew we were going to be a lot better," Gromen said. "The first day we showed up to practice, we all knew we were going to be something special this year."

-- Dan Steinberg

Eleanor Roosevelt's Crystal Anyanwu won the 4A South Region cross-country championship in 21:09. The state championship meet is Saturday at Hereford High.