(Nov. 7, 2014) Eight Stephen Decatur cross country runners–seven female and one male–will compete in the 3A state championship meet this Saturday at Hereford High School in Parkton.
The Lady Seahawks qualified for the state meet after the team finished third out of 12 schools in the 3A South Regional championship at Oak Ridge Park in Hughesville, Oct. 30.
The competition was strong, as expected, Decatur Coach Jody Stigler said, and the Seahawks started off pretty slow, he added.
“We only had one girl [senior Jenna Reimer] in the top 30 after one mile. I thought that our girls may not qualify after that. However, they really moved toward the front in the last two miles and we ended up having five girls in the top 24,” Stigler said. “I was nervous after watching the start of the race, but I thought that we had a pretty good performance when all was said and done. Our girls were actually fairly close to getting second which would have been a great result. I still thought that third was a very good result from our girls.”
Reimer was the first Lady Seahawk to cross the finish line. She finished fourth overall (21:04.97).
“I was really happy with my performance. Definitely most of the race for me was mental because all those hills, but I was feeling really strong mentally and physically,” she said. “I’m really happy to have qualified for states with these girls.”
Junior Alison Alvarado took 13th place (22:09.46).
“I thought I did really good. I beat my [regional] time from last year by a couple of seconds, which was good,” she said.
Runners who finished in the top 15 were named to the 3A South All-Region Team. Reimer and Alvarado received that honor.
Junior Rachel Savage and senior Meya Chilengi were the next two Decatur athletes to complete the race. They crossed the finish line 20th (22:55.90) and 21st (23:00.08) overall.
“My goal was to just qualify for states which means getting top five, and we got third place which is awesome,” Chilengi said.
Sophomore Rose Billings rounded out the top five Decatur runners. She placed 24th overall (23:25.73).
“I thought I did pretty good. It wasn’t my best meet, but I did OK,” she said.
Peyton Dunham, a sophomore, and junior Katie Hofman were the sixth and seventh Seahawks to finish. They came in 34th (24:08.73) and 37th (24:50.67), respectively.
“I feel I did good at regionals. I feel like it was a real team effort [and] we all pulled our weight,” Dunham said.
“We did pretty good at regionals. We all ran strong,” Hofman said. “I dropped my time almost a minute from last year on that course.”
Decatur scored 76 points, good for third place. Northern–Calvert won the competition with 25 points. Huntingtown took second with 69 points.
The Decatur boys’ team finished sixth at regionals and failed to qualify for states. The top 15 individual runners in the boys’ and girls’ races automatically advanced to states. Since Decatur senior Parker Harrington finished seventh overall (17:12.91), he will compete in the state championship meet. He also earned 3A South All-Region honors.
“Individually, Parker Harrington was a standout performer. He ran 17:12, which was his fastest time all year on a pretty tough course,” Stigler said.
“I feel like I ran well. I did break one of my [personal records],” Harrington said. “Our boys’ team was really good this year. We were just so close [to qualifying]…I’m excited to have made it to states.”
Decatur runners who also competed at regionals were: senior Jake Gaddis (31st, 18:39.36), freshman Jack Reimer (34th, 18:50.62), sophomores Cameron James (35th, 19:08.54), Jared Massey (36th, 19:08.85) and Javier Hernandez (42nd, 19:22.47) and freshman Matt Alvarado (52nd, 20:12.74).
“Our boys didn’t really get a good start and got boxed in early in the race, except for Parker,” Stigler said. “After that, our No. 2-7 boys were playing catch up the entire race and that doesn’t really suit their running style. We were one place away from qualifying for the state meet so we actually ended up pretty close.”
The Decatur runners are all excited and looking forward to participating in the state meet.
“To be successful at states, I think we need to continue to focus to have a good start to the race. Another key to success will be if the team can psychologically adapt to the terrain at Hereford,” Stigler said. “The course is extremely difficult and it is easy for kids from the Eastern Shore to psyche themselves out when they run at that course.”
Since Savage is on vacation and can’t compete in the state meet, freshman Maya Knepp will take her place.
“My personal goal is just to try my hardest because I’ve never done anything like this before,” Knepp said. “I’m definitely nervous, but I’m very excited and honored that I have this chance.”
Alvarado, Chilengi and Hofman competed in the state meet last year, which took place at McDaniel College.
The only Seahawk to have run the Hereford course before is Reimer. The senior transferred to Decatur from North Penn High School in Pennsylvania before the start of the 2014-15 school year. She ran the Hereford course once with her North Penn team.
“I’m really excited to go back…It’s hard, but not as challenging as some of the other courses we’ve run this season,” Reimer said. “It’s definitely not harder than our home course.”
“We’re so used to running hills so I’m really hoping that it’s an easy course for us to be able to conquer,” Alvarado said.
The Decatur runners said they are all hoping to run their best races of the season. If they run their best and their hardest, the Seahawks said they will be happy.