Cold weather and daylight savings time mark the end of a fantastic season for Howard High School Boys Cross Country.

According to Coach Nathan Ferrell, "With a record number of runners participating in the program, the Howard Lions ended the season with a roster boasting over 70 runners. The loss of a few key upperclassmen runners from 2011 definitely compromised our rankings both in the county and regional meets this year, but the youth of the varsity line-up promises great things for next season."

With a varsity line-up that showcased six sophomores (Ray Smith, Nolan Dunnigan, Ryan Land, Josh Olivier, Devon Rowell and Ian Kappey) and a freshman (Reilley Butler), two of which were first year runners (Kappey and Butler), this season was as much of a learning experience as anything for the Lions.

Despite the challenges the runners met as they negotiated new courses and learned to work together as a team, the Lions had some outstanding individual performances, including two runners who individually qualified for States, held at Hereford High School in Parkton on Nov. 10.

Junior Luke Filar worked all season training with his teammate and County Champion Senior Danny Rau as they led their team in points and times. Filar set personal records on nearly every course and posted a personal best at the state meet finishing 84th out of 173 runners with a time of 18:29.

Danny Rau was .07 seconds from taking the state championship, finishing in 2nd place with a personal best time of 16:20 at this challenging course.

Other contributing members to the Lions 2012 XC team include Senior Scott Seeman, and Juniors Tyler Lewis and Evan Moore, who trained relentlessly and stepped up to provide valuable points for their team at Tri-Meets and Invitationals alike.

Congratulations on a great season to the Howard Boys Cross Country team!

In other Howard High School sports shorts, the Lions JV football team finished its season Thursday, Nov. 8, by beating River Hill 39-2. This win topped off an undefeated season for the JV team, giving good reason to think next year's Lions will be a force to be reckoned with, perhaps even impossible to tame.

Go Lions!

With the holidays upon us, the Elkridge Food Pantry gift card holiday drive is one way to "give where you live," reflecting the theme of the pantry's annual 5K fun run held each fall. Checks can be made payable to the Elkridge Love Mission and mailed to 5660 Furnace Ave., Elkridge MD 21075 (please note "Christmas Gift Cards" in the memo line).

Donation are respectfully requested before Dec. 10 so that the pantry can distribute the gift cards on Dec. 14, which will be the last day the food pantry is open prior to Christmas.

CrossLife Community Church is hosting its fourth annual Christmas Gingerbread House Contest on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Elkridge Fire Hall. Kids work with supervision by their parents to create their own festive gingerbread house from 10 a.m. until 11:15 a.m., at which time judges from the community will award prizes to the best representative in each category.

All materials are provided, and there is no charge for this memory-making event. Registration is required to guarantee plenty of gingerbread fixins'; reserve your space no later than Dec. 12 by calling 410-960-6301, or via email to kay@crosslifeonline.com.

Crosslife Church accepts nonperishable food items for the Elkridge Food Pantry the same day. For additional information, go to http://www.crosslifeonline.com and click on Community Event Gingerbread Contest.

Daniels Restaurant and Open Air Bar will host an Oyster Festival on Saturday, Dec. 1; 1-4 p.m., with live music by Ruckus at 5854 Washington Blvd., Elkridge. The menu features raw oysters, fried oysters, oyster shooters and oyster stew, and many other home-cooked foods.

The Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department Junior Firefighter Program will have Santa Secret Gift Shop Fundraiser on Sunday, Dec. 16, 7:30-11:30 a.m. during its monthly breakfast. Children can come shop for their family members; gifts range from $1 to $4.

The Junior Firefighters will assist children with buying and wrapping. For every item a child purchases, they will receive a ticket for a chance to win a prize. The Gift Shop is behind the firehouse hall in the garage on the hill.

Pam Poolson, of Hanover, is a social worker and the Children's Program Coordinator for Baltimore Outreach Services, a nonprofit organization founded in 2002 to provide comprehensive programs and services to homeless women and their children.

You can help support this wonderful initiative and do a little holiday shopping in the process! "BOS Cooks" is a collection of delicious recipes, original artwork and stories about the organization.

All proceeds from BOS Cooks will directly benefit homeless women and children. You can purchase the cookbook and learn more about BOS at http://www.baltimoreoutreach.org