The Anne Arundel County cross country championships often brought frustration to the Broadneck girls over the years. On Thursday, everything finally changed.
No. 6 Broadneck placed five runners in the top 10 and rolled to a surprisingly easy victory over South River and No. 4 Severna Park in the race at Annapolis. The Bruins wanted to run as a pack and used the strategy to perfection.
For the boys, top-ranked Severna Park had little trouble repeating as team champions. The individual titles both went to Annapolis runners as Hale Bullen set a course record with his win in the boys' race, and Sarah Sykora edged out Broadneck's Ellie Smith in the girls' race.
The Bruins girls team hadn't won the county title since 2002. In fact, that's the only time they'd won it since 1981. Broadneck finished second 11 times during that span — all behind Severna Park — including the past two years.
But this day belonged to the Bruins as they finished with 35 points, beating out South River (65), who surprised defending champion Severna Park (67). Sykora won the race in 20:26.28, just ahead of Smith (20:27.47), closing fast at the end. Smith led Broadneck, who also got top 10 finishes from Rachel Armstrong (sixth), Ashleigh Sullivan (eighth), Kathryn Wesdyk (ninth) and Erin Dougherty (10th).
"They ran great today. It was a team performance," Broadneck coach Brianna Kelly said. "We've been practicing running as a team, [and] they've wanted this badly."
Smith said the Bruins worked hard to remain in a group throughout the race. The Bruins had two more runners (Sophia Cologer and Morgan Taylor) finish 13th and 14th, but their points didn't count since only the top five runners from each team score in the team results.
"We wanted to stay close together because that's how you win," Smith said.
Sykora took the lead with about one-quarter of a mile left and hung on to outlast Smith. Bullen completed the Annapolis sweep by setting a new course record in 16:29.47, beating out Severna Park's Ryan Forsyth (16:49.63).
Bullen said he was going for the record from the start. He tried monitoring the pace on his watch, but eventually just threw it away in the woods. Bullen said he took off after the first mile.
"I just kind of laid down the hammer," he said. "It hurt, but I felt great. This is what I've trained for."
The Severna Park boys finished with 24 points, easily beating South River (69). The Falcons put five runners in the top eight and seven in the top 10. Forsyth (second), James Shipley (third), Ben Cambon (fifth), Sam Pershall (sixth) and Rhys Burgett (eighth) all scored, while John Hussey (ninth) and Dillon Cooley (10th) ended up in the top 10 despite not scoring.
"We've got to run better to achieve our ultimate goal [of a state championship]," Severna Park coach Josh Alcombright said. "We've got to finish better. We've got to close better."
Anne Arundel County Championships
Team scores (top 5): 1. Severna Park, 24; 2. South River, 69; 3. Broadneck, 79; 4. Annapolis, 91; 5. Chesapeake, 155.
Individual results (top 10): 1. Bullen (ANN), 16:29.47 (course record); 2. Forsyth (SPK), 16:49.63; 3. Shipley (SPK), 16:50.83; 4. Love (CHE), 16:53.43; 5. Cambon (SPK), 16:53.50; 6. Pershall (SPK), 16:56.62; 7. Musselman (SR), 17:02.46; 8. Burgett (SPK), 17:04.00; 9. Hussey (SPK), 17:18.84; 10. Cooley (SPK), 17:20.88.
Team scores (top 5): 1. Broadneck, 35; 2. South River, 65; 3. Severna Park, 67; 4. Annapolis, 138; 5. Old Mill, 147.
Individual results (top 10): 1. Sykora (ANN), 20:26.28; 2. Smith (BRD), 20:27.47; 3. Wagner (SR), 20:34.84; 4. Bunting (SR), 20:52.14; 5. Koffler (SPK), 21:11.72; 6. Armstrong (BRD), 21:13.77; 7. Johnston (ANN), 21:17.07; 8. Sullivan (BRD), 21:20.94; 9. Wesdyk (BRD), 21:25.33; 10. Dougherty (BRD), 21:28.67.