"All of a sudden, I'm on the ground," Smith said after the race. "My legs gave out [and] I was so worried." But Smith got back up, ran right back into contention and took command, winning her third straight state title.
Smith then went on to place fifth in the Foot Locker Cross Country Northeast regional and earned a trip to the national finals in San Diego, where she finished 18th. She was just the fourth Maryland girl to qualify for the meet.
Smith, a four-time All-Metro pick, also was Runner of the Year as a sophomore. In addition, she became the first girl to win four straight Howard County championships.
She also is a dominant performer in outdoor track, where she was an All-Metro selection and won two straight 800- and 3,200-meter state titles. Smith is considering offers from Syracuse, Villanova, Virginia, Georgetown and others.
The Lions bought into it and eventually became one of the most balanced teams in any of the state's four classes, taking off around midseason. They went on to capture the Howard County, Class 2A South and state titles.
Howard had come a long way since last fall, when it finished ninth in Howard County, seventh in the Class 2A South region and 14th in the state meet.