At one point during the Class 2A girls cross country state meet, a bystander cheered “Eat the hill like it’s breakfast!”
Hereford High’s infamous dip — a steep ravine that runners must trek down, then up twice during the meet — did not disappoint, and runners battled through a number of inclines and hilly terrain on the course throughout the day’s races.
“That was definitely the hardest course I’ve ever ran,” Winters Mill freshman Makenzie Hopkins said. “The dip, it’s what it’s famous for and it was very hard but overall I felt pretty good because it’s cold and it felt good. My legs are stinging a little bit, my heart’s still beating fast. it was tough but I just keep running to try and beat people in front of me.”
Hopkins, Carroll County’s top finisher in the 2A meet, said she used the dip’s difficult incline to gradually pass other runners. She succeeded and hit a personal record time of 19:45.3 with her third-place finish.
The 2A meet took off around 1:30 p.m. as the first of the afternoon races and Hereford dominated the meet once again. Junior Emily Konkus won in 19:40.44 — her second straight state meet victory. The Bulls pulled off the three-peat with another 2A team state title.
The girls finished with 81 points — runner-up River Hill had 121, Liberty, the Carroll County and 2A West champs, were third with 126, and Oakdale was fourth (135).
Hopkins’ twin sister Kathryn placed ninth to help the Falcons finish fifth as a team. River Hill runners Jasmine Tiamfook and Faith Meininger placed fifth and sixth, Liberty seniors Heidi Rinehart and Maeve Lyons were sixth and ninth.
“[Makenzie Hopkins] did really well and we expected her to do well,” Falcons coach Ben Brown said. “We really geared all season, not just for Makenzie, Kathryn and Dellaney [Georgiana] but all of them, Annie [Kartalia], Casey [Jillson], just to make sure they could give their best at counties, regionals and states — obviously, with Makenzie leading the group, but everyone kind of fed off that energy.”
Westminster’s girls placed 10th in the 3A meet early in the day with 272 points and junior Erin McGrath was the Owls’ top finisher in 21:34.26.
Francis Scott Key’s girls qualified for the 1A state meet as a team for the first time since 2001 after placing fifth in the 1A West. The Eagles finished seventh as a team with 173 points and freshman Maria Leppo led the Eagles with a 24th-place finish in 22:21.47.
Junior Lakota Comeau was 31st in 22:57.63.
Hopkins won the individual county title in October, the second straight year a Winters Mill runner won the meet. She went on to finish third in the 2A West meet at Liberty a week ago in preparation for her first state meet experience.
“It’s been a long day, I woke up early this morning,” Hopkins said. “Being here felt really good to beat some people from Carroll County, some top people I’ve seen and beating them. I was surprised, but also not surprised because I felt really good today.”