Hayden Hebert entered the state championship meet Saturday well aware of the challenge the course at Hereford High School would provide for those who race it.
It’s not a fast course by any means, and it provides plenty of twists, turns and hills, such as the infamous “Dip,” a steep ravine in the middle of the course that runners have to trek up and down twice. Most runners who compete at the Bull Run Invitational in September on Hereford’s course already have an idea of what to expect when states arrives.
“It’s definitely an adventure, it’s a pretty tough course,” Hebert said. “Earlier this year, I had to run in the heat and it really got to me and I hit a wall. Today with the hills, I think I prepared myself throughout the season to race them pretty well and continue to push after the hill and that’s what I did today.”
Carroll County placed nine athletes in the top 25 at the 2A state meet, and Hebert led the way with a sixth-place finish in 16:17.82. The Knights placed third with 127 points.
Liberty was in search of its fifth state title in a row, but the Lions finished second to champion Oakdale with 98 points. The Bears had four runners in the top 20, and senior Kyle Lund won the meet in 15:47.76, a new 2A state record.
County champion Woodrow Kashima finished ninth in 16:41.4, Lions teammate Connor Stewart was 16th, and Gavin Edson was 18th. Trent Taylor rounded out the top 25 for Liberty and finished in 17:14.35.
South Carroll senior John Kettula came in eighth in 16:36.86 and the Cavaliers placed fifth.
Hebert finished second to Kashima at the county meet Oct. 25, but finished fourth at the 2A West meet the following week as Carroll’s best finisher. The Century junior said the competitive nature of these meets helped him prepare for the state championship race.
“It really taught me how to hang onto people and pace myself not to go out too hard,” Hebert said. “That’s pretty much what I did today, I went at the pace I was supposed to for the first mile and it allowed me to go through the back hills and have enough energy to go down and up them and I slowly picked peel off and finished sixth so it was fun.”
Francis Scott Key senior Cole LaPierre finished seventh in the 1A boys race in 17:15.07.