Wilde Lake junior Mehdi Bensarghin sprinted to an early lead in the boys' junior race at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championships on Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park in New York.
This time, he didn't fade.
Bensarghin turned in the best time by a Howard County runner Saturday, finishing the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes 1 second, good for eighth place. Bensarghin had used the same tactic in his first cross-country race of the season and had fallen apart, with stomach cramps eventually forcing him to pull out of the Howard County Invitational.
"I didn't know how everyone else was going to go out," Bensarghin said. "I thought maybe if I got stuck behind I would be in trouble. I think I went out the right way. I went out good. I just didn't keep it up."
Bensarghin wasn't the only county runner who slumped a bit during the race, though he did recover. County champion Matt Sanders of Mount Hebron was slowed by a planter's wart on his left foot halfway through the race and jogged his way to 135th place (17:28) in the boys' seeded race.
His teammate, Seth Kampf, was in position to medal in the boys' senior race before he was passed by several runners during the last 800 meters. Kampf finished 30th in 17:31. Wilde Lake senior David Schnorf was 43rd in 17:53.
"I was going in thinking I could do some damage, definitely," Kampf said. "I didn't think there was any way I couldn't medal in that race. I was expecting to do really well, wreck the house, and I got 30th. I still ran a decent time, but it just wasn't what I was looking for."
As for Sanders, he knew that when the wart on the side of his foot began to aggravate him midway through the race that his chances of placing in the top eight and earning a trip to the Foot Locker National Cross-Country Championships were gone.
"All these kids were passing me that shouldn't be passing me," Sanders said. "I just couldn't run."
Sanders is scheduled to have outpatient surgery to remove the wart from his foot today and will miss three weeks of the indoor track season.
Mount Hebron senior Katie Mason turned in the best county girls' time, taking 20th in the senior race in 20:54. Mount Hebron junior Elise Lindenmayer was 21st in the junior race in 21:06, and Centennial sophomore Sarah Lancos was 28th in the sophomore race in 21:22.
'An Awesome Experience' Team Maryland Riptide went 2-4-1 at the National Field Hockey Festival in Indio, Calif., last week, but county standouts Nadia Clendening and Dayna Eng didn't seem to mind at all.
"It was definitely an awesome experience, and I was so happy I went," said Eng, the team's goalkeeper.
Added Clendening: "There were teams from all over the country there, and we had just played against teams from the state. It was definitely different."
Joined by Glenelg Country senior Katie Bauer, the trio got more than enough competition. Neither Bauer nor Clendening scored during the three-day festival, and Eng allowed 11 goals. In contrast, she allowed only 10 last season with Centennial.
"That says right there how hard the competition was," Eng said. "When you get so many shots, some of them are going to go through."
Mount Hebron senior Emily Goldman and Long Reach senior Jordan Swaim went 3-3-1 with Capitol Pegasus. Goldman notched one assist during the festival.