What are the best high school teams in Frederick this fall?
Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ll likely have to wait until next spring to find out. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association postponed fall and winter sports until after the first semester, which ends in January, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
So to help fill the void, The Frederick News-Post thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport.
Each week, we’ll feature a sport and list contenders from years past in that sport. Readers can visit www.fredericknewspost.com to vote for the team they think is best. We’ll do this for all sports, fall, winter and spring.
Each Thursday, when we list candidates for another sport, we’ll reveal the team from the previous week’s sport that got the most votes.
This week’s sport: Boys cross-country. May the best team win.
1973 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Class C state champion, District I champion, unbeaten in dual meets
In 1973, the MPSSAA changed the distance of its state meet from 2.5 miles to 3 miles, where it remains to this day. The extra half mile did little to slow down the Knights.
Coached by the legendary Don Boyer and featuring a pair of eventual Olympic Marathon Trials participants, David Shafer and Tom Stevens, Middletown successfully defended its state title by beating runner-up Oakland Mills 19-59.
Shafer won the race with a time of 16 minutes, 12 seconds at the University of Maryland, capturing his second straight state crown. After continuing his career at Marshall University, Shafer qualified for the 1984 Olympic Marathon Trials with a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 53 seconds at the 1983 Boston Marathon, where he placed 53rd. He placed 105th at the Trials.
Stevens placed fifth at the 1973 C state meet. After continuing his career at the University of Georgia, Stevens qualified for the 1988 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials after getting a time of 2:18.03 at the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. At the Trials, tightness in a leg muscle forced him to drop out after 18 miles.
Those two were among four Middletown runners who placed in the top five at the state meet. Middletown’s Mark Pearl placed second for the second straight year with a time of 16:26, and Wayne Zimmerman was fourth. Not too far behind were Middletown’s Earl Palmer (seventh). Middletown’s Sean Tolland (10th) and Eric Windsor (20th).
“This is the best cross-country team to ever come out of this county,” Boyer told The Frederick News-Post back then. “The competition was a little tougher this year than last, but we were also much better.”
1984 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Class C state champion, Class C Region II champion, Frederick County champion, MVAL champion
Middletown won its third straight MPSSAA state title and eighth overall, which is still more than any Frederick County boys cross-country team, by beating Boonsboro 25-76.
This Knights triumph featured a dramatic finish from its top runner, Tom Nave. Trailing a Harford Vo-tech runner heading into the final quarter mile at Hereford High School, Nave gained speed in the final 100 yards and surged ahead to win the individual state title with a time of 16 minutes, 32 seconds.
“Going up the last hill, Tom was trailing,” Knights coach Don Boyer told the News-Post. “But when he got on the level ground for the final distance, he caught him.”
Other top finishers for the Knights were Donnie Collings (third), Kevin Farrell (fifth), Brian Schiffhauer (10th), Monte Boyer (12th), Jon Albee (19th) and James Geisbert (20th).
Don Boyer said the Knights beat 112 schools that year and lost to three, with just one of those setbacks coming to a Maryland team, Westminster. Nave was the Frederick News-Post Runner of the Year. All five first-team spots were awarded to Middletown runners, including Collings, Farrell, Monte Boyer and Albee.
1989 Brunswick Railroaders
Accomplishments: Class 1A state champion, Frederick County champion, MVAL champion
This was the first Brunswick team in 23 years to win a state crown, and this bunch was motivated to break that drought after placing third (a point shy of second place) at states the previous season.
A slew of key runners returned from that team, and this is where it needs to be pointed out that Brunswick, a 1A school, had competed against bigger schools in 1988 because the MPSSAA held combined a 2A-1A meet that year.
“This was a team that had not lost a meet in two years. Last year, we were lumped in with the 2A schools, but we had the best score against 1A competition,” Railroaders coach Lee Zumbach, who still coaches numerous sports at Brunswick, told The Frederick News-Post back then after his team won the 1989 state title. “The guys were running on pride.”
That prideful group featured a deep lineup headed by Russ Adams, who switched from soccer to cross-country as a sophomore, and numerous runners routinely posted sub-17-minute times throughout the season on high school courses.
They had success against larger schools, winning the county meet, and they rolled to a 26-47 win over runner-up Milford Mill at the 1989 state meet.
Adams won the individual 1A state crown with a time of 16:27 (which would’ve won the 4A race, by the way). Brunswick’s other scoring runners were Eric Moltere (fifth), Dewey Gibson (seventh), Teague Moltere (10th) and Mike Madrake (11th). The Railroaders’ Steven Allgaier was 12th.
Adams (named The Frederick News-Post Outstanding Male Runner), Allgaier, Gibson and Eric Moltere earned all-county first team honors.
2003 Urbana Hawks
Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion, Class 3A West region champion, Frederick County champion, MVAL Chesapeake champion
This Urbana team won the program’s second title in four seasons.
While both of those championship had different coaches, Craig Coleman in 2003 and Matt Adams in 2000, they had one thing in common — Kurt Kuehne played a key role each year.
And being a senior in 2003, Kuehne was at the peak of his powers on the high school level. He capped his stellar career by winning his second straight individual 3A state crown, winning with a time of 16:47. He became the first Frederick County boys runner to win back-to-back individual cross-country state titles since the aforementioned David Shafer accomplished the feat in 1972 and 1973.
No doubt, Kuehne provided the Hawks with a much-needed lift at states. But on a day when they won their program’s third state crown by edging second-place River Hill 107-112, the Hawks relied on several others to provide crucial points.
Senior Andrew Ramsey, who likely would’ve been a No. 1 runner at many other schools, placed 11th, Other scoring runners for Urbana were Daniel Smith (24th), Kenny Smith (34th) and Vance Thompson (48th).
Kuehne was The Frederick News-Post Runner of the Year, while Ramsey, Daniel Smith and Kenny Smith were also all-county first-teamers.
2013 Thomas Johnson Patriots
Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion, Frederick County champion, Class 3A West region champion, MVAL Piedmont champion
Thomas Johnson was piling up titles throughout the season, including at the Frederick County meet and regional meet.
After watching his team celebrate the latter crown, Patriots coach Rob Wilhelm would later tell The Frederick News-Post, “I was like, ‘Let’s not let that be the highlight of the season.’”
It wasn’t. That highlight came when the Patriots won the first state team title in program history, beating second-place Mount Hebron 86-100.
TJ’s push to the elusive title was led by Ben Freed, who became the first TJ runner in 26 years to win a boys state cross-country individual crown, taking the race with a time of 16 minutes, 6.9 seconds.
TJ’s other scorers were Louis Levine (sixth), Logan Staley (16th), Thomas Trott (25th) and Nico Johnson (38th).
Freed was The Frederick News-Post Runner of the Year. Levine and Staley also earned all-county first-team honors.
The title was also a nice reward for Wilhelm, who won his first state crown after coaching state title contenders at Walkersville, both boys and girls.
2013 Catoctin Cougars
Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, Class 2A West region champion, MVAL Antietam Champion
This was the second of three straight titles won by the Cougars, and it’s the only one of three that didn’t see a Catoctin runner win an individual title.
Rather than penalize this team for that, it’s better to commend it, considering how the Cougars shook off some late-season adversity.
Yes, Catoctin senior standout David Dorsey didn’t successfully defend his individual title. But he battled back from a knee problem that forced him to miss the county meet, bounced back after being sick the week of states and placed a more-than-respectable third with a time of 16:26.1 on the McDaniel College course.
Dorsey’s team-best performance helped Catoctin beat second-place Poolesville handily 61-111. It was the third state title for him and his twin brother Kevin Dorsey, who helped the Cougars win the 1A title in 2010.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Cougars coach Terri Gibbons said that day.
“This was probably the greatest we’ve ever done at states,” Kevin Dorsey said that day, when he placed sixth. “Everyone did their jobs, above and beyond their call of duty.”
Catoctin’s other scorers were Zach Gascho (fourth), Patrick Van Der Cruyssen (16th) and Eric Myers (32nd).
The Dorsey brothers and Gascho, who would win an individual state title the following season, earned Frederick News-Post all-county first-team honors.
2017 Linganore Lancers
Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion, 3A West region champion, Frederick County champion, CMC Spires Division champion
On the surface, the 2017 Linganore Lancers won the program’s third state title with ease, beating second-place Centennial 73-126.
But make no mistake, the Lancers dealt with a huge scare during the meet. Their top runner, Michael Belmaggio, fell during the race.
The mishap occurred when the junior, who was in second place at the time, came to a sharp turn that was banked on the second mile of the race.
But after a second or two on the ground, Belmaggio got up, retained his composure and still ended up finishing in second place with a time of 16:14.86, his best time yet in a state meet.
“We always talk about: What do you do if you fall? What do you do to overcome obstacles?” Linganore coach Andres Wright said back then.
“And the answer is, you’ve just got to deal with it. You have to overcome [the obstacles] at all costs,” he said. “The task is so large to win titles of these magnitudes that you just have to deal with those kinds of things.”
Capturing its first state title since 1996, Linganore also got high finishes from Kyle Guinn (fifth), Will Cioffi (16th), Spencer Askine (17th) and Jeremy Carter (34th).
Belmaggio was The Frederick News-Post Runner of the Year, while Askine, Cioffi and Guinn also earned all-county first-team honors.
2019 Oakdale Bears
Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, Class 2A West region champion, Central Maryland Conference champion, Frederick County champion
Behind an all-around balanced team and a record-setting runner in Kyle Lund, Oakdale captured the program’s first state title by beating second-place Liberty 63-98.
Lund, a senior who would eventually commit to Division I Brigham Young University, won the individual state crown with a time of 15:47.76, which set the Class 2A course record at Hereford High School.
That was one of three sub-17-minute times posted by Oakdale runners at the meet. For the Bears, Collin Dempsey was seventh (16:26.69), Joshua Milliken was 17th (16:58.15) and Spencer Buckwalter was 19th (16:59.58). Charles Parrott was 27th (17:24.49), Justin Cherry was 31st (17:36.69) and Nicholas Raumann was 37th (17:46.67).
Lund (Runner of the Year), Buckwalter, Dempsey, Milliken and Parrott all earned all-county first-team honors.
The team title completed a clean sweep of marquee meets for the Bears, who had won titles at the CMC, county and region meets.
“These guys rocked it,” Oakdale coach Dave Lillard told The Frederick News-Post that day. “They won it because they worked as a team. They got together, they worked out over the summer. As a group, they did everything together. They just did it. You start together, you finish together.”