A few iron pills were all Broadneck senior Sophie Thibodeau needed to reach her peak cross-country performance. After a sub-par junior season, Thibodeau was diagnosed with anemia last December. This is her comeback year, and her success as one of the Bruins' top seven finishers was integral to the school's first 4A state championship.
The Broadneck girls defeated C. Milton Wright, 67-78, Saturday at Hereford High School in Parkton. Junior Lauren Centrowitz won her first state cross-country title in 19 minutes 9 seconds; sophomore Emily Nagle placed sixth in 20:36.34; and Thibodeau, the only senior on the girls' team, finished 16th in 21:07.38.
The Bruins' boys finished second.
"We really needed Sophie," Centrowitz said. "I'm so glad she's back. It closed the gap. She's just so strong now, and we're really going to miss her. She's a really positive part of the team."
Broadneck freshman Kasey Jamison helped with a 24th-place finish in 21:34.15, and junior Susan St. Cyr placed 30th in 21:54.45.
Severna Park junior Stephanie Newton placed fourth in the 3A meet in 20:21. The Falcons, this year's 3A East Region champions, finished seventh Saturday. The Severna Park boys were eighth.
At the beginning of the season, Centrowitz said she didn't think the team could win the state championship. Thibodeau was entering a rebuilding year, Jamison was just a freshman and Nagle was a soccer player. Thibodeau didn't see a doctor last year until she finished three minutes slower than usual at an indoor track meet. Coach Dana Dobbs convinced her it was mental, but former Annapolis track coach Mike Ballard suggested she have her blood tested.
"I had a whole new attitude and was working hard and I couldn't even make it through practices," she said. "It was awful. It's so great to be back. I told myself I was going to go out with a bang."
Thibodeau wasn't the only Bruin to battle back from health problems Saturday. Junior Andrew Younger ran his best meet of the season and finished 13th in 17:35 to lead the boys to an unexpected second-place finish. He was the team's No. 4 runner at the county meet and third on the team at regionals. He led the team Saturday.
"It was a redemption race," said Younger, who improved on a 22nd-place finish at the regional meet. "I was fighting off some illness, that's why I had run bad at counties.
"They were announcing all the places and every place I was thinking we're going to be now. They got to third and I was like this is it, I know we didn't do worse. They announced Magruder third and everyone jumped up. They knew we had gotten second."
The second race of the season was at the same course used for the state meet. Younger wiped five seconds off his first time.
It was at that same Bull Run meet that Thibodeau started feeling competitive again.
"I knew I was having a great race, and I got to the maze [the 2.5-mile mark] and I saw Coach Dobbs," she said. "I looked at him and started smiling, and I couldn't stop the rest of the race. I've smiled every race since that."
MIAA A Conference
Championship Spalding senior J.J. Wetzel was in a place he had never been this year -- second. Wetzel, who had been undefeated in six dual meets and won four invitationals, placed second at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference Championships at Oregon Ridge on Nov. 6.
After a runner-up finish last fall, Wetzel was the front-runner for this year's title. He had defeated the winner, McDonough sophomore Tristram Thomas, four times during the regular season. At the title meet, however, he finished second in 17:10. His best 5K time this year was 16:31.
"I'm not too disappointed with the place, it's my performance," said Wetzel, who has received a scholarship offer from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. "I didn't run my best race. I like to be in control of the race and when he took the lead with about a half mile left, I hadn't been in that position and I didn't know how to counter. . . . It was more mental than it was anything else."
The Cavaliers finished fourth overall for the third year and closed the season 4-3. St. Mary's senior Alek Pivec won the boys' B Conference title in 17:23, and the Saints finished fourth. Annapolis Area Christian School placed eighth and Severn followed in ninth.
"I think it meant a little more last year because it was my first time and the whole team won the championship but it still feels good to finish first," said Pivec, who was undefeated during the regular season. "I think I'm better this year than I was last year, but I didn't get to break my [home course] record. I'm pretty satisfied. Team-wise, we did the best we could do."