Plenty of fast times and new personal bests were run this past Saturday by Maryland runners at the NXN Southeast Regional, but none greater than Severna Park's Garrison Clark who was one of the 5 individual national qualifiers in the championship boys race with his 7th place effort of 15:12.
The junior has made remarkable improvements from a year ago when he ran his sophomore year best of 16:08 to finish 54th overall at the 2016 NXN Southeast Regional. Clark might have the slowest mile time ever for a national qualifier as well as he had only run 4:41 for 1600 meters this past spring.
With three runners ahead of him on teams advancing to Nike Cross Nationals, Clark ended up being the 4th of 5 individual qualifiers for the region.
Clark led the Severna Park boys to a 7th place finish in one of the deepest and strongest fields in meet history as shown by the region getting its first at-large selection ever in third place squad Green Hope (NC). The Severna Park boys tallied 204 points and averaged under 16 minutes at 15:57 as a squad for their top 5 finishers.
Dulaney in 10th place with 414 points and Calvert in 14th place with 452 points were the next best Maryland squads in the field, which included 6 more schools from the state in the 33 team field.
There were more than a half dozen runners under 16 minutes in the championship boys race from Maryland including Calvert's Justin Diehl (20th, 15:39), Linganore's Michael Belmaggio (28th, 15:48), Northwood's Obssa Feda (30th, 15:49), Dulaney's Brian McCullough (31st, 15:49), and Loyola-Blakefield's Camden Gilmore (35th, 15:52) were the next 5 finishers after Clark.
The second and third fastest times of the day by Maryland runners actually came from the open race with the Richard Montgomery pair of sophomore Garrett Suhr (1st, 15:34) and senior Joachim El-Masry (2nd, 15:35) going 1-2 together in the race and 30 seconds ahead of their next closest competitors.
There were no individuals or teams from Maryland in serious contention for national berths in the girls race, but there were noteworthy performances regardless.
A total of 8 Maryland girls broke 19 minutes on the WakeMed Soccer Complex course in Cary, North Carolina. Leading the way for the state was Genevieve Dibari of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart and Anna Coffin of Annapolis finishing right together in 26th and 27th place as both were timed at 18:37.
Anne Arundel County was well represented among the fastest performers in the meet as beyond Coffin. Broadneck had two girls under 19 minutes in the Janke sisters Olivia (31st, 18:40) and Anna (40th, 18:52), while Severna Park's Kamryn Eveleth was just under 19 minutes in 50th place.
The two-time 3A state champions from Northern-Calvert had the best team performance from all of the Maryland squads competing in the meet as they finished 15th with a team score of 335 points. Their squad was led by Abby Sweeney's 38th place run of 18:50.
Also breaking 19 minutes from Maryland with strong individual performances were Leonardtown freshmen Nelle Ray (34th, 18:47) and Paint Branch senior Yasmine Kass (35th, 18:37).
In the rising stars race, Severna Park boys enjoyed a 1-2 finish from sophomores Nick Engleman (1st, 16:37) and James Dennison (2nd, 16:43).