The Hereford girls cross country team stole the spotlight in the Class 2A state cross country championship race on Saturday afternoon at Hereford High.
The team captured its third straight state title and fourth in the past five years, finishing with 81 points, ahead of River Hill (121) and Liberty (126).
In 2014, the Bulls were second in the state meet.
In the individual race, Hereford junior Emily Konkus rallied from behind in the final half-mile and held off three challengers in the last quarter-mile for the victory in a time of 19:40.44.
She is the fifth Hereford girl to win the individual title and first since Erin Causey in 2010.
Other Hereford champions included: Kristen Malloy (2007), Mary Leffel (1986) and Tammy Walden (1981).
“It was just insane,” Konkus said. “I honestly still can’t believe it. It was definitely a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears that went into it, so it’s just amazing that it paid off.”
Konkus began to make her move just before the two-mile mark.
“I’m better at catching people than holding people off, so that’s what I just had to go in with,” Konkus said. “Around the corn field, I started to know that I had to kick it in.”
Konkus took the lead with about a half-mile to go.
On the flat grass before the final incline, River Hill’s Jasmine Tiamfook nearly pulled even, but once Konkus got on the hill she stretched her lead and held off a charging Heather Delaplaine (19:41.79), of Damascus, at the finish.
Winters Mill’s Makenzie Hopkins (19:45.22) was third, Tiamfook (19:47.74) dropped back to fourth and River Hill’s Faith Meininger (19:56.32) was fifth.
“I didn’t see her [Tiamfook] coming behind me, but I heard people telling me that I had to push, so I had to give it everything that I had, like in any race, it doesn’t matter if you are in last or first, you’ve got to give it everything you have,” Konkus said.
Hereford coach John Roemer had confidence in her when she was in third place coming up the dip.
“I said, ‘You go for that first girl and you are going to win this race.’ ” Roemer said.
Hereford coach Adam Hittner was busy traversing the course and didn’t get back to the finish line to see her win, but he knew her strategy was sound.
“It was just a matter of patience, she’s got so much speed,” Hittner said. “She’s a great 400 and 800-meter runner, so we said it’s a matter of letting other people do too much and then picking up the pieces when they do.”
Following Konkus for the Bulls were: junior Libby May (18th, 20:46.38), seniors Nicole Burkoski (19th, 20:46.69) and Kelly Shearer (21st, 20:49.54), junior Emily Francis (30th, 21:09.21) and seniors Jen Taylor (34th, 21:10.10) and Emily Stricker (62nd, 22:08.81).
The Hereford boys placed 12th in the Class 2A boys’ race won by Liberty.
Leading the Bulls were: Dillon Coffey (48th, 17:37.40), William Creel (52nd, 17:42.92), Shane Taylor (68th, 17:57.64), Sean Flynn (75th, 18:11.81), Dietrich Sweeney (78th, 18:55.15), William Holbrook (96th, 18:38.60) and Will Reider (125th, 19:26.81).
Dulaney boys finish second
After winning back-to-back Class 4A titles, the Dulaney boys finished second for the third time in the past five years in the state cross country championship meet.
The Lions finished with 77 points and only trailed Severna Park (40).
It was the fifth straight year one or the other team finished in first or second place and the two teams gathered for a group picture together after the awards ceremony.
“There is great sportsmanship in this sport,” said Dulaney senior Brian McCullough, the Lions top finisher (13th) in a time of 16:42.97.
McCullough felt confident in himself and his teammates leading up to the race.
“From last year, to this year, we were more confident going into this race,” he said. “On the line, everyone was hyped up.”
McCullough started the race at a fast pace.
”I think I went out a little too fast, but I think it’s the best I felt in a cross country race, until I went up the dip the first time and then I started to fall apart,” McCullough said. “I think around the hockey field their fourth guy passed me and I was starting to get into a dire situation, but our team was talking about this at our team workout yesterday, it’s not over until it’s over. Last year we were down by 18 points at the top of the dip, so I kept fighting, but I just didn’t have it.”
Dulaney coach Chad Boyle’s squad did place five runners in the top 25, but Severna Park had four in the top 10 and five in the top 20.
Dulaney’s top 25 included: Baltimore County champion Drew Dailey (14th, 16:43.28), Sam Merng (16th, 16:44.65), Connor Martin (21st, 16:48.37) and Matt Owens (23rd, 16:50:07).
Zak Audia (31st, 17:07.96) and Nick Owens (52nd, 17:25.52) also ran for the Lions.
The Dulaney girls finished eighth in Class 4A girls (225 points) in the race won by Walter Johnson (83).
Freshman Marissa Dailey (20th, 20:14.00) and junior Brook Ruffin (22nd, 20:16.80) were the lone Lions in the top 25.
Sophomore Kayla Brennan (55th, 21:12.00), freshman Kaitlin Robinson (69th, 21:30.00), seniors Meghan Robinson (85th, 21:53.30) and Dorrie Gaeng (86th, 21:55.60) and junior Emilie Bowerman (93rd, 22:00.9) also ran for the Lions.
Towson girls place third
Before the Towson High girls ran in the Class 3A state championship cross country race, coach Gil Stange had a goal in mind.
“I was thinking if we could finish in the top five, I would be happy, top three would be fantastic,” he said.
The Generals placed third with 142 points, trailing front-running Northern-Calvert (37) and C. Milton Wright (92).
Towson junior Jaqui Sheedy (17th, 20:54.04) and freshman Madeline Till (23rd, 21:13.31) both placed in the top 25.
It was redemption for Till, who didn’t finish the race at the Class 3A North Region meet.
“She dropped out of the regional race because it was so hot, she couldn’t breathe,” Stange said.
The chilly weather at Hereford High on Saturday morning was more appropriate.
“This was a nice weather break for us,” Stange said. “We figured the weather would be kind of a wild card. If you were prepared for it, than today would be a good day, but if you weren’t, than maybe you wouldn’t run like you did a week or two ago.”
His team prepared for the cool conditions by running over to Dunbarton Middle School and helping them run a middle school race three days earlier.
“We ran over to Dunbarton and it was cold,” Stange said. “They ran their workout, they stretched, they did their cool down and then they helped them with the race. It was perfect.”
Also representing the Generals were: senior Caroline Brune (28th, 21:32.67), freshman Anna Vaikness (40th, 21:53.05), sophomore Maggie Grandsire (41st, 21:53.68), junior Claire Briglio (47th, 22:06.33) and senior Celia Parts (79th, 23:25.14).
The Towson boys placed 11th in the race won by Linganore.
Freshmen Sam Fields (36th, 17:53.75) and Peter Sorensen (39th, 17:56.78), sophomore Corey Parts (62nd, 18:24.32), senior Daniel McShane (73rd, 18:35.61), sophomores Matthew McShane (78th, 18:39.62) and Drew Conboy (83rd, 18:42.63) and junior Liam Jones (101st, 19:08.79) represented the Generals.