Caitlin Pierson said the goal was clear and simple: for the South River girls’ cross country team to win the county championship at Annapolis High School on October 24, its top trio would have to do their part.
“We had the goal in our head that we had to go 1-2-3,” said Pierson. “That would be awesome and would really set us in a good position, and if we did that we’d be ecstatic about it.”
Sure enough, the Seahawks were thrilled about the results when the race was over. Pierson outsprinted Broadneck’s Erin Dougherty in the home stretch to take third behind teammates Carly Bunting (first) and Reilly Wagner (second), and the strong finishes of Claire Igoe (11th) and Katie Adair (13th) powered the Seahawks to a best-five score of 30 and the program’s second Anne Arundel County championship, its first since 2008.
Emily Jacobsen (19th) and Lexi Conway (25th) rounded out an outstanding team performance for the Seahawks in the 70-runner field.
Bunting’s winning time of 20:01.33 made her the second Lady Seahawk ever to win the individual county crown and first since Hillary Lee won three straight titles from 2007-2009.
“I’m just so happy that I got to share this with my team,” an emotional Bunting said after the race, still catching her breath from a furious kick to the finish line. “I’m ecstatic. I’m so glad we went 1-2-3. It was really our ultimate goal. We all gave it our hardest. It feels awesome.”
The Seahawks, who also won the Doc Jones Invitational in early October ahead of 14 other teams including Severna Park, Broadneck and Annapolis, have been steadily gaining in strength and stamina throughout the season, said Head Coach Hugh Harris.
“Throughout the season they’ve been working hard, and each meet they’ve faced some tough competition,” said Harris. “We knew we had Broadneck and Severna Park and Annapolis running on their home course, that they were [all] going to be tough to beat. They just really pushed each other in practice every day. It makes a huge difference. They just feed off each other, and when they work hard in practice, it just transfers to the meets and into success, and it showed today.”
At the 4A East region finals meet at Chaptico Park on October 31, it was once again the South River girls who brought home the crown, with Bunting laying claim to her second individual title in seven days by finishing first in 19:30.76. Wagner took second in 19:50.50, and Pierson (fifth), Igoe (16th), Jacobsen (17th), Adair (18th) and Conway (33rd) all finished in the top half of the 79-runner field in leading South River to a region championship and a team score of 41, well-ahead of runner-up Severna Park (74), third-place Broadneck (77) and fourth-place Annapolis (83).
No boys’ cross country team was going to stop Severna Park’s dominant performance at the county championships (the Falcons had seven of the race’s top finishers and won the team title with a record score of 18), but South River’s Brent Musselman at least crashed the Falcons’ top-ten party.
Musselman finished third overall behind Severna Park’s Ryan Forsyth and Rhys Burgett to help the Seahawks to a runner-up finish with a score of 76. Strong finishes by South River’s Stephen D’Ambra (16th), Connor Livingston (19th), Jonathan Snowden (21st) and Ryan Bergamini (23rd) rounded out the Seahawks’ runner-up performance.
Musselman followed with another third-place finish at the 4A East region championships at Chaptico Park a week later.