Photo by Melissa Rose
In one of the top matchups of the season in the state, seniors Kate Murphy and Maria Coffin did not disappoint at Saturday's Frank Keyser Invitational. Entering the meet the top time for the Frank Keyser Invitational had been 17:30 (according to the MileSplit database, dating back to 2002), which both girls smashed. Murphy - last year's NXN Southeast Champion and Olympic trial qualifier in the 1,500 - became the first girl since at least 2002 to break 17 minutes on Boonsboro's course, clocking a time of 16:56.90 in her victorious performance. Coffin was not far behind finishing at 17:10.20. Catoctin's Julien Webster even challenged the old meet record, finishing third in 17:44.70. The Lake Braddock girls dominated the race, scoring just 27 points, while River Hill edged Walter Johnson (sans Abigail Green) for the second spot.
Smithsburg's Will Merritt didn't mind their placement in the large school division this year, as he blew away the rest of the field and recorded a 3-mile personal best of 15:06.30, just a few seconds off the times recorded by past Maryland state champions William Bertrand and Chase Weaverling. Lake Braddock and River Hill once again went 1-2 in the team scores.
Earlier in the day, Southern Garrett's Declan Horner picked up a big win over Liberty's Nick Tilson in the small school varsity race. His time of 15:25.20 was the second-fastest of the day. The Liberty boys filled up places 2-5 and placed their entire top five among the first eight finishers, ensuring an easy team victory. Their anticipated matchup with the Century boys will have to wait until the Carroll County Championships as they rested many of their top runners.
The small school girls race was dominated by out-of-state runners. Hampshire's (WV) Hannah Lipps took the lead early and never looked back, finishing in 18:06.80 - over 50 seconds in front of the runner-up. The John Handley (VA) girls, led by second and third place finishes by Kristin Blake and Kenzi Fergus, beat the Boonsboro girls on their course with 45 points. Kristen Bitsberger (4th, 19:07.70) from Holton-Arms was Maryland's top finisher in the race.