River Hill cross country has been about consistency in years past. This year, it’s about domination.
The Hawks proved that on Saturday at Hereford High School, one of the state's toughest courses, by winning the boys 3A team title with 65 points, 60 points ahead of second-place Atholton, and the girls team championship with 64 points, 31 points ahead of Einstein.
The Hawks finished a historic season in which the boys and girls both swept the county, regional and state meets. It is only the second time in school history both the boys and girls have won the state meet in the same year.
The win also marks the 500th of coach Earl Lauer’s 44-year career.
“Most (teams) won’t ever win even one state championship,” said Lauer. “And to win the boys and the girls on the same day, it’s incredible.”
The top-five runners for both the boys’ and girls’ teams finished in the top-26. It’s been the model for success all season for River Hill. They leave no runner behind.
“We kind of punched everybody in there,” Lauer said. “If you have five in the top-25, you’re going to be hard to beat.”
The River Hill boys had battled with the Raiders all season long, finishing ahead in both the county and regional meet. But the Hawks saved their best for last and put on a dominating performance to win their first boys state title since 2007.
“We told the guys over a month ago, ‘it’s yours to lose,” Lauer said. “’You guys are as good as anybody.’”
“We set that expectation a couple months ago, and they met that expectation,” said fifth-year boys varsity coach Paul Hugus.
Senior Chris Heydrick, who won the county and regional meet, was the highest-placing boys finisher for the Hawks in third (16 minutes, 8.3 seconds).
The finish for Heydrick ended a stellar cross county career, coming in just behind Wilde Lake senior David Eisenhauer and North Harford senior Nick Fransham. Heydrick beat Eisenhauer in both the county and regional meet, but the fast pace on the hills took him out of his groove.
“There’s no shame in losing to two kids who are better than you are today,” said Hugus. “But he’ll see (Eisenhauer) in track, and it’s going to be some more battles with David for sure.”
Junior Liam Pederson, who finished 26th (17:24.1) in his first season running cross country, “has really made a difference,” Lauer said.
Lauer added that his addition solidified a top-five group that could match up with any team.
Senior Mark Moody finished eighth (16:51.4), junior Trent Rose finished 17th (17:09.3), sophomore Rahul Reddy finished 21st (17:15.9), sophomore Jacob Parker finished 34th (17:32.9) and sophomore Ben Oldhouser finished 64th (18:06.6).
As for the girls, the Hawks have finished first or second at the state meet eight out of the last 10 years. Their senior leaders led the way and put River Hill back on top after finishing second last year at McDaniel.
Lauer said the goal was to place at least five in the top-25. The Hawks managed that and just missed a sixth, as senior Courtney Colosimo finished 27th (21:04.6).
River Hill got a surprise from senior Allison Krein, who led the pace and had her best finish of the season (eighth, 20:02.2). The fourth-place state finisher last season had been battling an injury all season and struggled to keep pace with the top runners in the county throughout the fall.
On Saturday, she was the highest-placing runner for the Hawks' girls’ team after being the third-best runner in the group all season.
“She didn’t start running until the first week of July. We’ve kind of been waiting on her, nursing her, she’s been doing really well,” Lauer said. “(Her finish) was a big plus for us.”