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Lang, Heydrick run way to Howard County cross country titles

Oakland Mills junior Britt Lang knew what she was up against.

Centennial's Shreya Nalubola, Lang's main competitor at the Howard County Cross Country Championships Tuesday at Centennial High School, is known for being a notoriously strong finisher. Earlier this fall, at the Howard County Invitational on the same course, it was Nalubola who edged Lang by two seconds in a sprint to the finish.

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This time, though, Lang was ready for it.

"She normally comes through at the end of the day," Lang said. "But it was definitely a goal to finally be on the other end of that."

Lang delivered a performance to remember, pulling away from Nalubola — the two-time defending county champion — in the final 800 meters to win her first county title in 19 minutes, 4.75 seconds. Nalubola finished second in 19:18.35.

Lang, the 2012 2A state champion, finished second to Nalubola at the county championships as a freshman two years ago and then failed to complete the county championship race last season after being bothered by a hip injury.

The result of those races, along with the finish to this year's county invitational Sept. 13, pushed Lang every step of the way.

"I definitely kept that in mind when we were coming in," she said.

In the boys race, River Hill senior Chris Heydrick captured the individual championship for the second straight year in 16:38.75. Wilde Lake senior David Eisenhauer finished second in 16:58.80.

From a team standpoint, River Hill dominated the meet — sweeping both the boys and girls titles.

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The Hawks' boys finished with 37 points, 28 points ahead of second-place Atholton, and the girls earned 53 points, putting the team 20 points clear of runner-up Howard.

While Lang had never previously won a county title, Nalubola knew going in that it was going to be a fight to the finish. The Centennial senior said she figured it was going to come down to who had more stamina going into the final mile of the race.

"Between me and Britt, it's always in the third mile when we see who has the energy to kick and have that really strong finish," Nalubola said. "I think this time she was just feeling really good and she went for it. I tried to stick with her for as long as I could, but she's an amazing runner."

Lang said she had never been anywhere close to finishing the Centennial course in 19 minutes and that her time gives her confidence going into the 2A South regional at Southern High School on Oct. 30. She finished second last season after winning the region and state titles as a freshman two years ago.

While Lang and Nalubola were out front, Marriotts Ridge senior Carlyn Albright ended up finishing third (19.41.29) in the girls race after keeping pace with the leaders through the first two miles.

Led by senior Elizabeth Oldhouser (sixth), freshman Jasmine Tiamfook (eighth) and sophomore Owen Dannelly (10th), all seven River Hill girls finished inside the top-26.

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"We weren't worried about the top three," River Hill coach Earl Lauer said. "I told Oldhouser if you're in the top-five, that's a good thing. She was sixth and that was good."

Like their female counterparts, Heydrick and Eisenhauer were neck-and-neck until the final stretch. Heydrick said the slow start was what he had hoped for and that the early pace worked to his advantage.

"I was surprised David didn't take it out. He's usually a great guy to take it out hard and follow through with it until the end," Heydrick said.

Heydrick wasn't able to run against Eisenhauer at the Howard County Invitational in September because of an ankle injury he suffered at the first meet of the season. He's back at full-strength and Lauer thinks he has a 3A state title ahead of him.

"We certainly think we have a state champion," Lauer said. "He showed it in indoor and outdoor [track] and he's come back and that's the goal. … That's what he's hoping for I'm sure."

Eisenhauer beat out Heydrick for the 3A East region title last season and finished three spots ahead at the state meet. Heydrick said this win gives him a great confidence boost, but he knows he will have to race Eisenhauer to the finish line again at regionals and states.

Heydrick's senior teammate and fellow captain Mark Moody finished third (17.19.14) and helped pace Heydrick through the race.

Along with Heydrick and Moody, junior Trent Rose (eighth), sophomore Rahul Reddy (10th) and freshman Liam Pedersen (15th) led the Hawks to a dominating team win.

"We had seven in the top-24 and five of them are returning [next season], so that's got to be a good thing," Lauer said.

Cross Country

County Championship (at Centennial on Oct. 21)

Girls team results: 1. River Hill, 52 points; 2. Howard, 72; 3. Centennial, 73; 4. Reservoir, 121; 5. Marriotts Ridge, 123; 6. Oakland Mills, 166; 7. Glenelg, 171; 8. Wilde Lake, 173; 9. Mt. Hebron, 217; 10. Atholton, 282.

Top girls individuals: 1. Britt Lang, OM, 19:04.75; 2. Shreya Nalubola, C, 19:18.35; 3. Carlyn Albright, MR, 19:41.29; 4. Gabby Rayner, Ho, 19:56.34; 5. Kelsey Ponton, Re, 19:59.46; 6. Elizabeth Oldhouser, RH, 20:00.48; 7. Devin McIntyre, C, 20:18.10; 8. Jasmine Tiamfook, RH, 20:24.72; 9. Abigail Starks, MR, 21:06.20; 10. Owen Dannelly, RH, 21:08.54.

Boys team results: 1. River Hill, 37; 2. Atholton, 65; 3. Howard, 89; 4. Wilde Lake, 121; 5. Mt. Hebron, 141; 6. Reservoir, 150; 7. Centennial, 161; 8. Oakland Mills, 185; 9. Marriotts Ridge, 225; 10. Glenelg, 263; 11. Hammond, 324; 12. Long Reach, 387.

Top boys individuals: 1. Chris Heydrick, RH, 16:38.75; 2. David Eisenhauer, WL, 16:58.80; 3. Mark Moody, RH, 17:19.44; 4. Bryce Rosicky, A, 17:27.27; 5. Eric Smart, WL, 17:34.73; 6. Francisco Lefors, A, 17:36.24; 7. Brian Fieni, Re, 17:40.44; 8. Trent Rose, RH, 17:47.30; 9. Jacob Edmondson, MH, 17:49.00; 10. Rahul Reddy, RH, 17:49.23.

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