PARKTON — Been there. Done that.
That’s probably what the seven runners on Kent County High School’s cross country team were thinking Saturday after they completed the intimidatingly hilly 3-mile state championship course at Hereford High School.
Chase Andrew, Dan Mitzel, Daniel Rickman, Thomas Martinez and Tim Wintermyer made their Hereford debut, while Kyle Roderick and Noah Vargas were returning to the Mount Everest of high school courses for the second year in a row.
None of them ran a season or personal best.
How could they?
The course is ridiculously challenging with steep inclines and treacherous descents.
Kent head coach Henry Sabetti said he took the pressure off his runners by telling them to be conservative in their approach to the race and do the best they could.
“Everyone ran as well as could be expected,” Sabetti said.
“It was an honor to be there,” he added.
Rickman, the team’s MVP, had his season-long run of top-10 finishes end. Slowed down by a respiratory illness that had been hanging around since the state-qualifying region race the week before, Rickman placed 56th (of 157) in 19 minutes, 61 seconds.
He was fourth among 1A runners from the Eastern Shore, trailing Cambridge’s Connor McCroy (17th, 17:41,37), Snow Hill’s Keegan Gould (52nd, 19:03.93) and Cambridge’s Bryce Jones (54th, 19:13.55).
Kent County’s other scorers were Vargas (21:14.13), Mitzel (21:16.79), Wintermyer (22:31.81) and Roderick (22:32.80).
Rounding out the team entry were Martinez (25:23.37) and Andrew (25:31.86).
Martinez, a freshman, was a last-minute call-up to the varsity roster.
Sabetti said he was very proud of his team.
“Just being there was an accomplishment. They came from nowhere to qualify,” he said.
Four members of Kent County’s state-qualifying team of 2016 chose not to run cross country this fall. Rickman, who played junior varsity soccer last year as a freshman, and Martinez are new to the sport.
So qualifying as a team out of the 1A East Region meet was a big deal.
East Region champion Bohemia Manor easily defended its state title with a low score of 34 points. Second-place Southern Garrett was an also-ran with 81 points.
Kent County placed 19th in the field of 22 full teams.
This was the fifth state championship for Bo Manor, which introduced cross country as a varsity sport in 2005.
Bo Manor juniors Zachary Laird (16:09.17) and Alex Longeway (16:42.90) placed first and second, respectively. Bo Manor’s other scorers were sixth, 12th and 13th.
All five of Bo Manor’s scorers were across the finish line before Southern Garrett, favored to win, had its third runner in.
Laird was Bo Manor’s first individual champion since Ty Franks captured successive state crowns in 2012, ‘13 and ‘14.