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Hereford girls, Oakland Mills’ Ethan Aidam relish ‘opportunity’ on way to 2A state cross country championships

All season, the Hereford girls cross country team has been simply eager for the opportunity to continue the tradition.

No girls cross country program in the state of Maryland has won more state titles than the Bulls in the last 45 years, but — for the majority of this group of Hereford runners — the 2A state meet Saturday on their home course was the first chance to add their names to the list of champions after the postseason was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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With four runners in the top nine and six in the top 20, Hereford didn’t let the moment pass them by.

“We had six kids running today that had never run in the state meet before and one that hadn’t run since she was a freshman three years ago. So, I think there was a great appreciation for just having the opportunity to run and compete,” Hereford coach Adam Hittner said. “For so long I think everyone took for granted that every November we will have a state meet. But you lose it one time and all of a sudden there’s an even more special enthusiasm leading up to this … and it started all the way back over the summer.

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“When you factor all of that in, winning this one is definitely extra special.”

Hereford High School - 2021 Girls 2A State Cross Country Champions
Hereford High School - 2021 Girls 2A State Cross Country Champions (Jeffrey F. Bill)

Hereford finished with 37 points, 40 ahead of second-place Liberty (77), to secure the girls program’s 13th state championship all-time and eighth since 2010. Junior Estelle Snider finished as the team’s top runner in second place with a time of 19:46.1.

Even though Snider fell just six seconds short of first-place finisher Daisy Dastrup of Poolesville — getting passed in the final half mile — she was able to quickly put it all in perspective.

“Of course I wish I could have won, and I didn’t really see [Daisy] until she passed me right near the end, but I’m just so proud of my team” said Snider, who led by 10 yards or more for most of the first two miles. “We are all like a big family and we just really bonded this whole season. We run this for each other and push one another to do our best … it’s nice knowing my finish helped with that.”

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Ethan Aidam, Oakland Mills, shows off his Scorpions jersey, as he wins the 2021 Boys 2A Maryland State Cross Country Championship, Saturday November 13, 2021.
Ethan Aidam, Oakland Mills, shows off his Scorpions jersey, as he wins the 2021 Boys 2A Maryland State Cross Country Championship, Saturday November 13, 2021. (Jeffrey F. Bill)

For 2A boys individual champion junior Ethan Aidam of Oakland Mills, who was also competing at states for the first time, there was a little extra motivation Saturday. He wasn’t only running for himself, but also for a pair of senior teammates from last year — Baidy Ba and Ella Harris — who never got the chance to run at a final state meet.

“I dedicate this to them because last year COVID messed up the season and they definitely would have won. I have no doubt about that,” Aidam said. “So just the fact that I got the opportunity to race, I gave it my all for them.”

Aidam delivered a dominating performance, pushing ahead in the middle of the boys race around the soccer field and never looking back. He posted a time of 16:43.6 that was 23 seconds ahead of second-place Timothy Cherry of Glenelg.

“The three times I have ran this course before, I always die around the soccer field. So today I decided to instead take that opportunity to make my break,” Aidam said. “I used that middle portion of the race to create my separation and kind of just kept it going after that.”

While Aidam cruised to victory, Cherry took second in a photo finish. The Gladiators’ junior passed three runners in the final 200 meters to take second.

“I do a lot of track workouts so I feel like I can always find it within myself to finish strong at the end,” Cherry said. “As people fall off, I try to make up ground.”

In the boys team competition, Poolesville took the title with a total of 39 points. The Liberty boys, just like their girls counterparts, finished in second place with a total 102.

Liberty High School scores 102 points with a team time of 1:31:38 to place 2nd at the Boys Class 2A - 2021 Maryland State Cross Country Championships, Saturday November 13, 2021 at Hereford High School.
Liberty High School scores 102 points with a team time of 1:31:38 to place 2nd at the Boys Class 2A - 2021 Maryland State Cross Country Championships, Saturday November 13, 2021 at Hereford High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Baltimore Sun Media)

Liberty coach Dan Jones said that he was pleased with how both his teams followed the game plan.

“When you get to this level of states, it’s all about focusing on your race and letting everyone else do what they do. We want to be looking at only those runners wearing our same uniform,” Jones said. “No matter how well we had run today, we were not catching those two teams. But we ran about as well as we possibly could and for that I’m extremely happy. Our runners ran the races they needed to run.”

1A Classification

There were no Baltimore-area winners among the teams or individuals in the boys and girls 1A races, but there were still plenty of standout performers.

The Fallston boys finished in second place with a total of 96 points, 41 behind champion Brunswick (55). The Cougars put three runners in the top 10, led by Alex Xavier finishing in fourth place individually with a time of 17:46.8.

“I am very pleased with the way they ran today and we had a solid year all year despite having a fairly inexperienced team,” Fallston coach Karin Walker said. “We come here for the invitationals to help prepare them and we just encouraged them today to run their race.”

Cambridge South Dorchester senior John Condon ran away from the field to win the individual race with a time of 16:55.2. Bohemia Manor’s Day Leone finished second in 17:14.2 and Pikesville’s Kaleb Berhanu was third in 17:41.8.

“I know [John] likes to go out fast and last year at the track state meet he did the same thing, so I just had to keep my composure,” Berhanu said. “I kept my pace and pushed pretty well.”

In the girls race, Northern Garrett’s Lydia Nelson pulled away over the second half of the race to win with a time of 20:27.8. Boonsboro’s Caroline Matthews was second (20:51.4) and Fallston’s Emily Atha third (21:06.1).

Atha, a junior, was the leader during the first half of the race and was pleased overall with her effort despite coming up short in the end.

“The first mile and the third mile go pretty fast, with the first being the flattest portion, so my strategy was to come out and stay aggressive. And I felt pretty good about how I did that,” she said. “I just really tried to stay in it as long as I could. The first-place finisher looked really great and Caroline Matthews, I love racing with her and I thought we really pushed one another.”

Northern Garrett ran away with the girls team title with 47 points and Smithsburg (78) finished second.

Results:

Top 2A Boys Teams

1. Poolesville, 39; 2. Liberty, 102; 3. Calvert, 115; 4. Glenelg, 128; 5. Hammond, 142; 6. Hereford, 145; 7. Century, 160; 8. Oakland Mills, 186; 9. Harford Tech, 258; 10. Kent Island, 300.

Top 2A Boys Individuals

1. Ethan Aidam, Oakland Mills, 16:43.6; 2. Timothy Cherry, Glenelg, 17:06.6; 3. William Beane, Poolesville, 17:07.5; 4. Davis Trump, Liberty, 17:08.5; 5. Caleb Dastrup, Poolesville, 17:14.4; 6. Peyton Dill, Century, 17:22.7; 7. Dylan J. Derewonko, Poolesville, 17:35.9; 8. Jack Hartsig, Calvert, 17:36.9; 9. Bryant Adams, Eastern Tech, 17:40.4; 10. Aaron Longbrake, Poolesville, 17:44.9.

Top 2A Girls Teams

1. Hereford, 37; 2. Liberty, 77; 3. Poolesville, 107; 4. Calvert, 121; 5. Glenelg, 128; 6. Century, 132; 7. Middletown, 165; 8. North Harford, 212; 9. Rising Sun, 240; 10. Harford Tech, 322.

Top 2A Girls Individuals

1. Daisy Dastrup, Poolesville, 19:40.1; 2. Estelle Snider, Hereford, 19:46.1; 3. Kristen Prince, Calvert, 20:07.0; 4. Kaila Spence, Glenelg, 20:21.2; 5. Sylvia Snider, Hereford, 20:23.1; 6. Frankie Moore, Oakland Mills, 20:20.9; 7. Madison McCurry, Calvert, 20:34.7; 8. Piper Lentz, Hereford, 20:38.0; 9. Rebekka Hillier, Hereford, 20:40.5; 10. Sarah van Ornum, Kent Island, 20:42.6.

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Top 1A Boys Teams

1. Brunswick, 55; 2. Fallston, 96; 3. Smithsburg, 110; 4. Northern Garrett, 135; 5. Bohemia Manor, 138; 6. Catoctin, 139; 7. Patterson Mill, 183; 8. Francis Scott Key, 197; 9. Boonsboro, 204; 10. South Carroll, 232.

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Top 1A Boys Individuals

1. John Condon, Cambridge South Dorchester, 16:55.2; 2. Day Leone, Bohemia Manor, 17:14.2; 3. Kaleb Berhanu, Pikesville, 17:41.8; 4. Alex Xavier, Fallston, 17:46.8; 5. Sean Milligan, Smithsburg, 17:58.4; 6. Alexander Contreras, Catoctin, 18:01.3; 7. Quinn Daly, Fallston, 18:17.7; 8. Ray Gibson, Brunswick, 18:18.0; 9. Andrew McGillivray, Brunswick, 18:21.1; 10. Bryce Kahler, Fallston, 18:24.1.

Top 1A Girls Teams

1. Northern Garrett, 47; 2. Smithsburg, 78; 3. Boonsboro, 107; 4. Fallston, 130; 5. Southern Garrett, 134; 6. Mountain Ridge, 138; 7. Havre De Grace, 153; 8. South Carroll, 167; 9. Western Tech, 231; 10. Loch Raven, 232.

Top 1A Girls Individuals

1. Lydia Nelson, Northern, 20:27.8; 2. Caroline Matthews, Boonsboro, 20:51.4; 3. Emily Atha, Fallston, 21.06.1; 4. Jenna Conley, Catoctin, 21:16.3; 5. Mary Delaney, Mountain Ridge, 21:22.1; 6. Cora Gentzel, Smithsburg, 21:59.7; 7. McKenzie Upole, Northern, 22:08.5; 8. Kayla Hawbecker, Smithsburg, 22:12.4; 9. Molly Senisi, South Carroll, 22:13.9; 10. Cami Row, Boonsboro, 22:26.1.

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