When Oakland Mills cross country coach Phil Lang watched his lead runner round the turn into the final stretch at the Hereford High course with a sizable lead in Saturday's 2A state championship race, he began to cheer as any coach would.
Then, when the runner got closer, he began to leap around like a man possessed, whooping and yelling. His behavior might have seemed unusual, until you realized that the runner he was going bananas over was his own daughter, Scorpions freshman Britt Lang.
"I felt like a football coach out there instead of a running coach," Phil Lang said. "It was very exciting first to see one of your athletes performing so well … but obviously the extra flavor of it being your daughter pushes it over the edge."
Spurred on by her father's enthusiasm, Lang poured it on over the final half-mile, finishing the three-mile course in a blazing 19:21.8. Lang held off her closest competitor — Poolesville sophomore Claire Beautz — by almost 30 seconds to become Oakland Mills' first ever girls cross country state champion.
"I had no idea how far back she was so I just gave it all I had so I could come through," Britt Lang said. "That was absolutely incredible. I'm just happy I had a great team. They've always been there for me, they always support me no matter what … it's a totally indescribable feeling."
Lang followed in the footsteps of her older sister, Tiffany, who placed second at the 2A state meet last year behind Winters Mills' Hannah Oneda's state-record smashing performance. Tiffany Lang, who became Oakland Mills' first girls county champion last year, is now a runner at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and was unable to attend the meet.
Britt Lang said that her mother, Oakland Mills co-coach Vicki Lang, was updating Tiffany during the race via Skype, and Britt planned to call her big sister immediately after the race.
Britt "is mean, when she's competing. And a very fierce competitor. Tiffany was in her own way too, just different personalities," Phil Lang said. "Britt has a lot of ability and we weren't sure where that was going to take her. She's never run on a daily basis like she did this fall and training regularly she was able to stay healthy first and foremost and was able to improve her fitness ... boy, that was neat to see."
With senior Alyssa Hemler placing fifth in 20:12.1, the Scorpions finished second as a team with 101 points, behind champion Calvert (57). Senior Sarah Brand (14th, 20:38.4) was also key to the Scorpions' high finish.
The Scorpion girls also finished second in 1995, but have never won a team state title.
"We had five really good girls coming into the season, and really prayed that nobody got hurt and a couple of the other girls got better during the course of the year too to fill in at six and seven," Phil Lang said. "We were hoping those first five could stay healthy and perform well when we needed them to."
Marriotts Ridge freshman Abigail Starks also placed top ten, finishing tenth in 20:26.1, and Glenelg sophomore Julia Nardone finished 12th in 20:34.9.
Long Reach's Charles Moran, in 19th, and Oakland Mills' Tom Brumbaugh in 21st, were the top local finishers in the 2A boys race.