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Overall girls' champion Ashleigh Spencer of Wiesbaden heads toward the finish line Saturday in Schwetzingen, Germany. In the background is Würzburg's Erin Gray. Spencer, a junior, covered the 5,000-mter layout in 20:48.
Overall girls' champion Ashleigh Spencer of Wiesbaden heads toward the finish line Saturday in Schwetzingen, Germany. In the background is Würzburg's Erin Gray. Spencer, a junior, covered the 5,000-mter layout in 20:48. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)
Overall girls' champion Ashleigh Spencer of Wiesbaden heads toward the finish line Saturday in Schwetzingen, Germany. In the background is Würzburg's Erin Gray. Spencer, a junior, covered the 5,000-mter layout in 20:48.
Overall girls' champion Ashleigh Spencer of Wiesbaden heads toward the finish line Saturday in Schwetzingen, Germany. In the background is Würzburg's Erin Gray. Spencer, a junior, covered the 5,000-mter layout in 20:48. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)
Ramstein's Danny Edwards is alone at the finish in winning the big schools and boys' overall DODDS cross country championships in 16:24 Saturday in Schwetzingen, Germany.
Ramstein's Danny Edwards is alone at the finish in winning the big schools and boys' overall DODDS cross country championships in 16:24 Saturday in Schwetzingen, Germany. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)

SCHWETZINGEN, Germany — Ramstein’s Danny Edwards and Wiesbaden’s Ashleigh Spencer dashed through the muddy woods of Tompkins Barracks to European big schools’ cross country crowns on Saturday.

“I tried to get a personal best today,” said Spencer, a junior who ran the hilly 5,000-meter course in 20 minutes, 48 seconds, “and I got it.”

Edwards’ time was 16:24, 13 seconds ahead of Greg Billington of Lakenheath.

“I want to thank my coach [Steve Meadows] and God,” said Edwards, the second member of his family to win a European cross country championship. Three years ago, his cousin, SHAPE’s Patrick Edwards, won on the same course.

Ramstein’s Edwards went his cousin one better, however, when he led the Ramstein boys’ runaway charge to the Division I team title for the fifth straight year. The Royals placed five runners in the top 10 of a combined field of Division I and II qualifiers to beat runner-up Heidelberg to the D-I team title by 25 points.

“I give all credit to my teammates,” said Edwards, a junior. “They’re out there every day pushing me.”

They also helped push the Ramstein girls to their third straight D-1 team title. Lorraine Tucker placed eighth to pace the Lady Royals’ 40-point victory over runner-up Heidelberg.

Saturday’s small schools’ champions were Menwith Hill sophomore Nicole Brooks, who clocked 22:34, and Alconbury junior Landon Kemp, timed in 18:00. This year, the European format was separated into four races, one for each sex from the Big and Small Schools.

“I liked the way it all unfolded,” said Ramstein’s Meadows. “It was a neat atmosphere and some of the smaller schools who usually don’t get on the awards stand got to take some hardware home from the Big Dance.”

Those schools were the D-III champion Sigonella girls and American Overseas School of Rome boys and the Division IV champion Lajes girls and Menwith Hill boys. DODDS-Europe added D-IV to its European championships in cross country and volleyball this year to allow even the smallest schools a chance to compete for titles.

Heavy morning rain soaked the course and left standing water in the flats, but no one seemed to mind, even though wide 2-inch deep puddles barred the way up the first hill.

“I just ran through the puddles right away on purpose,” Brooks said, “just to get wet and get it out of the way.”

The bravest race of the day was run by defending girls’ champion Charity Williams of Naples, who has been inactive for more than a month with a stress fracture in her left foot.

“I was on crutches with my foot in a boot for three weeks,” said Williams, a junior who’s the defending two-time European 1,500-meter champion. “I had an MRI the day before we left and the doctors said I could run if I wanted to but I might have a lot of pain after the race.”

Williams, who has run just four miles since losing the boot, said before the race she was hoping for a top-10 finish. In obvious pain during the race, she didn’t crack the top 10, but still helped her team to a fourth-place finish in Division II.

Patch, with Jessica Russell leading the way, won the D-II girls’ title by 30 points over SHAPE. The Panthers made it a sweep in D-II one race later when they outgunned Mannheim for the D-II boys’ crown.

European championships

(5,000 meters, Saturday at Heidelberg)

Boys

Divisions I-II

Team scoring

Division I: Ramstein 24, Heidelberg 69, International School of Brussels 92, Lakenheath 108, Kaiserslautern 122, Würzburg 143, Wiesbaden 146, Frankfurt International School 146.

Division II: Patch 61, Mannheim 73, SHAPE 89, Bitburg 107. Naples 111, Aviano 112, Black Forest Academy 122, Vilseck 174, St. John’s 186.

Top finishers

1, Danny Edwards (Rams) 16:24; 2, Greg Billington (Lake) 16:37; 3, Sam Dickinson (FIS) 16:43; 4, James Hamlett (Rams) 16:53; 5, Noah Sheppard (Rams) 16:59; 6, Steven Beckman (SHA) 17:00; 7, Parker Cowles (Rams) 17:01; 8, Will Dawson (Heid) 17:06; 9, Ben Eller (Rams) 17:11; 10, Steven Burnett (Kais) 17:15; 11, Jeremy Brady (Heid) 17:23; 12, Nicholas Rogers (Pat) 17:28; 13, Max Fotheringham (ISB) 17:31; 14, Kevin Edwards (Rams) 17:32.

Divisions III-IV

Team scoring

Division III: American Overseas School of Rome 16, Marymount 34, Hohenfels 49, Sigonella 55, London Central 56.

Division IV: Menwith Hill 27, Brussels 33, Iceland 36, Alconbury 42, Lajes 72, Ankara 90, Incirlik 106.

Top finishers

1, Landon Kemp (Alc) 18:00; 2, Joshua Kneeland (AOSR) 18:41; 3, Riccardo Serrao (AOSR) 18:42; 4, Kenny Pietenpol (MH) 18:43; 5, Neal Stainbrook (LC) 18:53; 6, Nathan Barclay (Ice) 18:55; 7, Matthew Trott (AOSR) 18:57; 8, Nathan Malinksi (Brus) 19:03; 9, Jesse Best (MH) 19:21; 10 Matt Reimann (Brus) 19:24.

Girls

Divisions I-II

Team scoring

Division I: Ramstein 36, Heidelberg 76, Kaiserslautern 81, Würzburg 120, Frankfurt International School 134, Wiesbaden 149, Lakenheath 156, International School of Brussels 162.

Division II: Patch 28, SHAPE 58, Aviano 98, Naples 119, Black Froest Academy 121, St. John’s 141, AFNORTH 156, Vilseck 167.

Top finishers

1, Ashleigh Spencer (Wies) 20:48; 2, Erin Gray (Wzbg) 20:59; 3, Joy Hrushka (Kais) 21:13; 4, Jessica Russell (Pat) 21:37; 5, Louise Iden (SHA) 21:38; 6, Kylie Marchant (Pat) 21:41; 7, Maggie Redmond (Pat) 21:43; 8, Lorraine Tucker (Rams) 21:45; 9, Zarah Younossi (Napl) 21:47; 10, Shannon Beydler (Pat) 21:55; 11, Tabitha Grubb (BFA) 22:00; 12, Stephanie Gonzalez (SHA) 22:01; 13, Katrina Gamueda-Smith (AFN) 22:11; 14, Kaitlyn Dunn (BFA) 22:12.

Division III-IV

Team scoring

Division III: Sigonella 15, American Overseas School of Rome 31, Marymount 49, London Central 52.

Division IV: Lajes 20, Milan 23, Brussels 46, Iceland 62.

Top finishers

1, Nicole Brooks (MH) 22:34; 2, Lauren Leismer (Milan) 22:51; 3, Aisha Mijahares (Sig) 22:55; 4, Samantha Boos (Sig) 22:55; 5, Sarah Ashby (Lajes) 22:59; 6, Lillian Pecoraro (LC) 23:02; 7, Sabrina Rossi (Mil) 23:27; 8, Stephanie Andreucci (Mil) 24:28; 9, Megan Gamble (Sig) 24:36; 10, Tabitha Silver (Lajes) 24:41.

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