ELDERSBURG — There's plenty of excitement and pride for teams and individuals perform well at a regional cross country meet.
Those who meet their goal of qualifying for the year-end state meet feel a sense of accomplishment. But with the championship meets tacked on the end of the fall schedule, runners are more likely satisfied to be in one piece.
Liberty's boys and Winters Mill's girls each claimed Class 2A West Region team titles Thursday at Liberty High School.
The top six teams on each side advanced to the state meet, set for Nov. 12 at Hereford High. Being able to compete on a challenging course such as Liberty's can bode well for many a runner, said Century's Natalie Poulton.
"It's very tactical," said Poulton, a junior, who placed third and was Carroll's top girls finisher. "It shows you kind of how strong you mentally are ... it keeps you on your toes."
The Lions boys packed five runners in the top 12, and four in the top eight, for 30 points. Century took second with 40 points behind five runners in the top 11.
WM's girls had 68 points and held off Marriotts Ridge's 74. The Falcons had three runners finish among the top 15.
Poulton crossed the finish line in 20 minutes, 10.7 seconds, followed by Winters Mill senior Emma Kartalia (fourth, 20:21). Kartalia, the county champion, got help from freshman Casey Jillson (10th), sophomore Delaney Georgiana (15th), and senior Caroline Wilcox (16th) in the top 20.
South Carroll, led by junior Jamie Anderson (sixth) and senior Sydney Ruckel (seventh), edged Century for third place. SC had 96 points to the Knights' 98. Senior Avery Arena ran 10th for Century.
Liberty's girls came in sixth and made the cut for states. Sophomore Lilly Rainey was their top finisher in 19th place.
Senior Nick Tilson and sophomore Daniel Saxon went 1-2 on the boys side to help the Lions repeat as regional champs. The reigning 2A state champs also had senior Andrew Miner (seventh) and junior John Lemaster (eighth) in the top 10.
Century senior Jacob Spera ran fourth and the Knights added sophomores Theo Johnson (sixth), Matt Huber (ninth), and Zack Fenton (10th) in the top 10.
South Carroll and Winters Mill placed fourth and fifth. SC sophomore Jason Cave was 15th; senior Devon Caples paced the Falcons in fifth place.
Francis Scott Key's Evan Ruhl qualified for states as an individual with his 18th-place finish.
Tilson won in 16:42.8, and Saxon was close behind in 16:55.8. The teammates said the Lions are feeling good about their chances to add another state championship following county and region team victories the past two weeks.