September 23rd, 2020
GC runners host meet at Northern Garrett HS
Lakers' cross country teams serving as athletic pioneers in pandemic
When the National Junior College Athletic Association approved non-contact sports to start this fall, Garrett College's men's and women's cross country teams were ready. Their plan went beyond just fielding those teams, with GC hosting its first-ever cross country invitational meet on Saturday at Northern Garrett High School.
Hagerstown Community College won the men's race, taking six of the top eight spots while defeating runner-up Harford Community College, 17-50. Westmoreland County Community College dominated the women's race, claiming the top three spots and six of the top seven.
The biggest achievement, however, may have been GC hosting its first athletic competition since the pandemic began. GC co-coach Dale Luy said an outpouring of institutional support made the event possible.
"I'd like to give a big thank you to the college and the athletic department," said Luy. "I have never had that much help putting on a race from an institution in 40-some years of coaching."
"When I drove up, I said, ‘Did I offer free food?' " joked GC Athletics Director Dennis Gibson. "We had eight staff and about 15 athletes there to help. It was a great turnout of people who wanted to pitch in to make this happen."
Hagerstown's Trentin Overcash (20:20.5) won the 6000-meter race while teammates Zane Chalker (20:36.5, second place), Henry Schmidt (20:46.5, fourth), David Butts (21:48.6, sixth), and Gabe Conder (21:51.2, seventh) finishing out the Hawks' scoring.
Jameson O'Dondald (21:47.7, fifth) paced Harford while Carroll Community College's Jacob Havins (22:20.9, ninth), Westmoreland's Nick Gabrielli (23:39.4, 10th), and Penn Highlands Community College's Cody Sral (28:57.8, 19th) were their respective teams' top finishers.
Freshman Esdras Castillo was Garrett College's top finisher, completing the course in 29:31.7 to take 21st place. Fellow freshman Laker Jeffry Geddie, Jr. was 25th in 45.56.7.
"That was the first race he's ever run in his life," Luy said of Castillo, who came to GC to compete for the Lakers' wrestling program. "He loves running. I see him potentially becoming a very good runner. John [Chambers, GC's wrestling coach] has those guys out running all the time. He just needs to increase his mileage and learn how to race."
Luy said Geddie is also relatively new to cross country.
"He's really having to work to get in shape, and he's doing that," Luy said of Geddie. "You can make yourself into a pretty decent cross country runner if you're willing to stick with it, put in the miles, and learn to race smart."
Brooke Bertovich (23:28.4), Jennifer Depree (24:45.1), and Oliva Jumper (25:17.3) swept the top three spots in the 5000-meter women's race for Westmoreland. A fourth-place finished by Carroll's Amanda Donndelinger (25:24) broke up the Westmoreland pack only to be followed by three more Westmoreland runners – Nytasha Marteny (25:38.7), Anna Rubino (25:51.5), and Molleigh Henderson (26:26).
Garrett sophomore Jessica Bow (Southern Garrett High) finished 10th in 27:12.2. She was the only Laker to run in the women's race as Ella Warnick (Northern Garrett High) missed the meet due to illness.
"Saturday's time was faster than any time she ran last year, and by quite a bit," Luy said of Bow's performance. "We're looking at getting better and hopeful about getting Ella back.
"Dennis Gibson has really stuck with this," continued Luy of the institutional support he's received for conducting a fall season while dealing with COVID. "It's a crazy year. In a normal year we'd have more runners – all these teams would have more runners. But we're continuing to try to grow the program."
The invitational was run under strict pandemic guidelines, including no spectators present. All coaches and athletes had to be screened before leaving their campus, with all coaches and athletes wearing masks except when the runners were warming up or competing.
Both the start and finish lines were also redesigned to promote social distancing.
The Lakers next compete at Penn Highlands Community College on Saturday, October 3rd.