Out here in the fields
I fought for my meals
I get my back into my living
I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland
Sally, take my hand
Travel south crossland
Put out the fire
And don't look past my shoulder
The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let's get together
Before we get much older
It's only teenage wasteland
A friend of mine, Kevin Graves, who ran for Good Counsel high school posted this 1999 photo above on my facebook page. Can you find me? The picture is the 1999-All County Cross Country Team for Montgomery County. As I looked at this, I immediately remembered what a great season it was. It was my junior year, the year I needed to step up and fill in the big shoes of Chris Graber who had graduated and went on to run for Duke University. Graber was a tremendous runner and was easily one of the top runners not only in Montgomery County, but in the State, as well as the Metro Area. I remember during my sophomore year when he was 3rd place in Reston's Footsteps Invitational behind the dominant runner Alan Webb(who would go on to become one of the nation's top runners in cross country and break records on the track). Meanwhile, during the same race, I was back in 60something place. Yes I did have a lot of work to do. The 1998 season was a series of ups and downs, with Chris Dwyer(#2 runner) not running as well as he had the previous year, and Graber in a league of his own. I was floating around as the #3 guy, and tried my best to keep up, but I was not at that level yet.
The 1998 MD State Cross Country Championships:
This was my second state meet, and Graber's last. My first year I had placed 61st as a freshman. As a sophomore I was hoping for top 30. Graber of course was shooting to win. Dwyer was also hoping for a solid finish...
Graber put himself into 3rd place for most of the race-against the defending champ Jason Santucci, and the Whitman runners on his heels. The state championship course was a tough one, and there was what was called "the dip," a mountainous climb up and down TWICE during the race(among other hills). Graber was in 3rd place when suddenly he collapsed at the top of "the dip." Chris unfortunately got dehydrated and thus ran until exhaustion, causing him to collapse right before the end. He dropped about quarter of a mile from the finish.
Meanwhile, Dwyer was having a tough day, stomach cramps causing him to drop way back. I remember passing him during the race and thinking "this is not a good sign." I wasn't running that great either, though I still managed a top 50 finish, coming in 49th. That put me as QO's number one runner. As I crossed that finish line, I realized that I now had to take the reigns and get the team back on track for next year. We would lose Dwyer, Graber, and a few others. There would be a lot of work to do. Heck, it wasn't even certain we would make states next year! I told myself I would not allow it to happen. I was the new leader of the QO Cross Country Team. I also told myself that I would get myself into the top 15 at states. I set the goal and kept my eyes on it.
The summer of 99' I trained my ass off. I ran up every hill I could find. Luckily, I had a training partner: Chris Shank. Perhaps I didn't realize it then, but he was the best thing for my running back then. Chris was competitive-just like me(I'm sure you're realizing by now that there were lots of Chris' on our varsity team...I think we had as much as 5 on varsity one year....known as the QO Chris team....everyone cheered by our last names....except my nickname was "Puffer"). Chris Shank wanted that top spot. So he too, trained hard. We would stupidly race workouts. I always needed to be ahead of him. It was like Maverick vs Iceman....but we were on the same team. We would argue a lot. It was counterproductive at times. But now I miss it.
The season started off slowly for me and our team actually was looking pretty solid. Chris beat me in our first race back at the Fort Detrick Invite. He ended up 9th place and I was 10th. After that, he never beat me again. His determination to get back on top motivated me even more, and our team followed. As the season progressed, we got better and better, and I became familiar with the other top runners in the county, climbing my way up. I placed 13th in the county and 11th in the region, with our team placing high enough to earn a trip to the state championship. But I still didn't have that breakthrough race I was waiting for. Not yet anyway. I wanted to make states a good race.
The 1999 MD State Cross Country Championships:
By the time states rolled around I had become a good runner, but I still had much to prove. There was no better race to do it than states. I started out in the top 30, but worked my way up during the race. I remember passing runners left and right, while Sean Pelkey, my coach was going nuts telling me where I needed to be. I battled it out with Whitman's Paul Tufaro below, knowing I needed to beat him to earn top 15.
I barely edged out Tufaro, finishing 14th in the state and running the race of my life. Our team placed 10th.
1999 State Championships
At Hereford High School
Boys ======================================================================= Name YR School Finals ======================================================================= 1 Hershberger, Marcus 11 Gaithersburg 16:28.94 2 O'Connell, Jesse 12 Westminster 16:33.17 3 Davis, Josh 12 Westminster 16:34.94 4 Hayes, Stephen 11 Winston Churchill 16:36.66 5 Marvel, Justin 11 Severna Park 16:38.77 6 Gaske, Mike 11 Wootton 16:46.04 7 Pool, Kevin 11 Westminster 16:47.24 8 Gilbert, Tristan 12 Westminster 16:49.74 9 Albertine, James 12 Walt Whitman 16:58.34 10 Seymour, Matt 12 Magruder 17:01.01 11 Pickett, David 11 Meade 17:06.81 12 Sheff, Adam 12 Winston Churchill 17:08.04 13 Still, Jacob 12 C Milton Wright 17:09.40 14 Sloane, Christopher 11 Quince Orchard 17:15.41 15 Peterson, Mike 12 C Milton Wright 17:16.71 16 Tufaro, Paul 12 Walt Whitman 17:19.17 17 Mathrani, Vik 12 Winston Churchill 17:20.75 18 Rice, Alexis 11 Woodlawn 17:21.45 19 Thomas, David 12 Meade 17:26.77 20 Hart, Andrew 12 Perry Hall 17:28.90
In 2000, my senior year, we placed 7th in the state as a team, and I placed 12th individually.
Chris Shank placed 30th and had a solid race as well.
2000 State Championships
At Hereford High School
Boys 3 Mile Run CC ================================================================================== Name Year School Pace Finals ================================================================================== 1 Hershberger, Marcus 12 Gaithersburg 5:28 16:26.02 2 Bailey, Pat 10 C. Milton Wright 5:30 16:31.37 3 Gaske, Mike 12 Wootton 5:31 16:34.85 4 Pool, Kevin 12 Westminster 5:31 16:36.66 5 Duffy, Billy 11 Dulaney 5:34 16:44.69 6 Knox, Will 11 Dulaney 5:38 16:54.00 7 Rice, Alexis 12 Woodlawn 5:39 16:57.28 8 Anderson, Aaron 12 Gaithersburg 5:41 17:03.17 9 Reuwer, Aaron 12 Dulaney 5:43 17:10.06 10 Ali, Maksudul 11 Gaithersburg 5:43 17:10.35 11 Weller, Stephen 12 Broadneck 5:44 17:12.31 12 Sloane, Christopher 12 Quince Orchard 5:44 17:13.85 13 Blass, Jeff 12 Arundel 5:45 17:15.04 14 Koehler, Scott 11 Broadneck 5:45 17:15.54 15 Sobeck, Kyle 11 Walt Whitman 5:46 17:21.35 16 Strawbridge, Shawn 12 Severna Park 5:47 17:23.02 17 Slowikowski, Jesse 10 C. Milton Wright 5:48 17:25.06 18 Bernstein, Daniel 12 Walt Whitman 5:48 17:26.82 19 Hayes, Stephen 12 Winston Churchill 5:49 17:29.07 20 Koj, Hubert 12 Watkins Mill 5:49 17:30.60 21 Ramdial, Peter 10 Bowie 5:50 17:31.73 22 Smith, Aaron 11 C. Milton Wright 5:50 17:32.23 23 Coughlin, Ryan 11 Severna Park 5:50 17:33.35 24 Serio, Phil 11 Westminster 5:50 17:33.53 25 Schmidt, Craig 12 Broadneck 5:53 17:40.01 26 Adams, Daniel 12 Magruder 5:53 17:41.90 27 Rafoth, Jason 12 Arundel 5:54 17:43.24 28 Pauley, Eric 10 Gaithersburg 5:54 17:43.66 29 Sparkman, Jason 12 Broadneck 5:55 17:47.06 30 Shank, Christopher 12 Quince Orchard 5:56 17:49.19