Leonardtown cross-country coach Jamie Copsey didn't have much trouble keeping track of his runners at the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championships yesterday. Whether it was the boys' or the girls' race, he could find his Raiders near the front of the pack.
The Raiders' boys and girls both completed undefeated regular seasons with dominant wins at Oak Ridge Park in Hughesville.
"It's an awesome day for us," Copsey said. "This is what we worked towards, to be SMAC champions, and I'm really proud of how we ran."
The Leonardtown boys placed five runners in the top 11 to distance themselves from Westlake and Northern. Junior Brandon Demers finished third to pace a Raiders squad that worked all year on pack running.
"We started the year pretty spread out," Demers said. "But through the season, we've steadily gotten closer and closer. Now, I think we're where we need to be."
In a race that included 71 runners, the Leonardtown girls placed all seven of their runners in the top 22 to best second-place Huntingtown. Sophomore Katlyn Dillow, last year's champion, finished third to lead the Raiders.
The Raiders have moved from 3A to 4A and will face some tough Anne Arundel County teams at the region meet.
"It's going to be a challenge," Copsey said. "But from what I've seen today, we'll be ready."
On a blustery day with the temperatures dropping, runners were thankful to navigate a largely wooded course that sheltered them from the wind.
Northern's Keely Murphy won the girls' individual title with a time of 18 minutes 39 seconds and finished one-two with teammate Katie Ogden.
"I went out behind about five girls, and then moved up after a mile," Murphy said. "It was a good pace and I felt really good."
So did Ogden, who credits Murphy with pushing her to be her best.
"I've won a few, but she's usually finished ahead of me," Ogden said. "Either way, though, we make each other better."
On the boys' side, Westlake senior Sean Guy's running strategy of skipping some regular season meets in preparation for the final stretch paid off. He finished with a time of 16:47 .
"I'm just starting to peak now instead of doing it earlier in the year," Guy said. "I felt good and fresh today."