Centennial High School was host to the 3A East and 4A East regional meets on Thursday, and Howard County teams led the way by winning three of the four races.
Centennial’s girls team defended its home course with a first-place finish in 3A East for the Eagles’ third straight region championship, while the Howard girls team continued to display its impressive depth to win the 4A race for the second year in a row. The River Hill boys team, meanwhile, held off a scrappy Centennial squad in the 3A East race to win by two points.
The top harriers in Howard County — River Hill’s Anish Nanjappa and Howard’s Amanda Eliker — both won their races with ease to lead their teams to first-place trophies.
The teams and runners that qualified will compete in the MPSSAA meet on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Hereford High School.
3A East girls
Centennial placed five runners in the top 14 to win its third straight region meet. Head coach Kevin McCoy said the three-peat means more coming on the Eagles’ home course.
“It’s always nice to come out on your home course and run well,” McCoy said. “We know it well and we know what we’re doing here, so we attacked the right spots and we made it happen today.”
Rain earlier in the day made the course at Centennial muddy, especially the hill next to the stadium. The 3A girls raced first, with several girls slipping and falling up the hill.
“Weather is the great equalizer,” McCoy said. “You almost can’t even prepare for it. Everyone in the race has been here before. You just embrace it, and you accept that it’ll be a tough day and that you have to be tough and keep moving.”
Junior Michelle Weaver led the way for Centennial with a third-place finish in 20:25. Sara Jurkovic (20:42), Madelyn Mielke (21:01), Katerina Talanova (21:04) and Mackenzie Dabbs (21:11) finished fifth, 11th, 12th and 14th, respectively.
“It was great,” said Weaver on the region title. “This is what we were working for. We all pushed so hard today. We were all there for each other. We’re just one big family.”
Manchester Valley sophomore Rubie Goffena won the race with a time of 19:40, while Atholton’s Aanchal Kasargod placed second in 19:58.
4A East girls
Howard’s 4A East victory is the team’s second straight region title, as the Lions won the 4A North regional last season.
“It’s exciting,” said Howard coach Zack Dickerson. “We want to run our best and win every meet we go to. This is a special team this year. For us, the bigger meet is next week, and this was a stepping stone to that.”
Eliker’s first-place time of 19:03 paced the Lions, who placed five runners in the top 15. The senior expected times to be slower entering the race with the muddy conditions.
“The night before I was visualizing the race like our coach told us to do, and I pictured it being muddy,” Eliker said. “We tried to stay to the left (on the hill), and we were able to push through.”
Dickerson was pleased with how his team improved after the county championship meet last week. He thought the Lions ran too fast in the first mile last week but fixed their pacing Thursday.
“At our county meet, I thought we got out a little bit too fast,” Dickerson said. “We ran well, and the score was nice to see, but I didn’t think we executed the plan perfectly. But today I thought they ran great. We were more under control.”
Following Eliker for the Lions were Nimrit Ahuja (19:19), Sara Kindbom (19:35), Jasmine Wilson (19:50) and Madison Radford (20:01), who placed fourth, seventh, 13th and 15th, respectively.
“Amanda won, and she’s fantastic, but Madison Radford was the MVP today,” Dickerson said. “She was in 25th place at the mile mark, and she moved up and up and to be our No. 5 today.”
3A East boys
Last week at the Howard County championships, Nanjappa set the Centennial High School course record with a time of 15:21. River Hill boys coach Paul Hugus said the senior’s effort was good enough to possibly set the course record again, but the muddy course had other plans. Nanjappa crossed the finish line in 15:50, which was easily the best time of any boys runner — 3A or 4A — on the day and was 20 seconds better than second-place Jacob Cole from Centennial.
“I think he ran about as well as he could have,” Hugus said. “This was a survive and advance situation for him and the team. I’m happy he won and we won.”
The region championship for the Hawks wasn’t as decisive as expected. Hugus’ squad edged Centennial by 34 points at the county meet a week ago, but the Eagles fell only two points behind River Hill on Thursday with the Hawks missing Josh Galindo, who is one of their top runners. Sean Krein (16:55), Awais Khan (17:02), Ryan Rose (17:21) and Bryce Handa (17:31) rounded out the Hawks’ top five with sixth-, seventh-, 15th- and 18th-place finishes, respectively.
“Centennial is a good team,” Hugus said. “They’re coming along, and they’re young. Hopefully this is what we needed to motivate us for next week.”
“It’s really exciting,” Nanjappa said of the region title. “It was a little closer than expected, but winning regions is a pushing force to our end goal of winning states.”
Centennial, led by Cole’s time of 16:10, scored 49 points to finish second — 36 points ahead of third-place Mt. Hebron. Freshman Antonio Camacho-Bucks finished fifth for the Eagles in 16:45, while Andrew Bank placed eighth in 17:05.
4A East boys
Severna Park had the most dominant performance of any team at Centennial. The Falcons placed five runners in the top 10 for a team score of 29 — 60 points ahead of second-place South River.
Jake Gelfand led Severna Park with a second-place finish. The junior crossed the finish line in 16:05, less than a second after South River’s Sam Keeny (16:04). Carson Sloat (16:24), Nick Engleman (16:30), James Dennison (16:44) and James Glebocki (16:48) placed fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively, for the Falcons.
South River, Broadneck, Arundel and Howard rounded out the top five and earned bids to the state meet.
Arundel’s Tanner Piotrowski, who won the Howard County Invitational at Centennial on Sept. 14, finished fourth in 16:13.
Howard, the lone Howard County team in Class 4A, was led by junior Kendall Phillips, who finished third in 16:06. Jakob Werdell, Eian Butler, Joseph Raudabaugh and Brandon Franco rounded out the Lions’ top five.
2A West boys and girls
Only two Howard County teams competed away from Centennial on Thursday. Oakland Mills and Glenelg both ran in the Class 2A West regional at Liberty High School.
The Scorpions’ Baidy Ba, who finished second at the Howard County championship last week, won the boys race in 16:43. Oakdale won the boys meet with 37 points. Glenelg was fifth with 169 points, while Oakland Mills finished eighth with a team score of 206.
Liberty won the girls race with 59 points. Glenelg was eighth with 181 points, and Oakland Mills placed ninth with a team score of 189.
3A East girls (top five advance to states):
1. Centennial 45
2. Reservoir 79
3. Atholton 81
4. River Hill 108
5. Westminster 128
6. Mt. Hebron 139
7. Manchester Valley 187
8. Marriotts Ridge 189
9. Long Reach 255
4A East girls (top five advance to states):
1. Howard 40
2. Severna Park 57
3. Broadneck 90
4. Leonardtown 118
5. Arundel 119
6. South River 148
7. Annapolis 176
8. Old Mill 193
9. North County 288
3A East boys (top six advance to states):
1. River Hill 47
2. Centennial 49
3. Mt. Hebron 85
4. Marriotts Ridge 107
5. Reservoir 128
6. Atholton 153
7. Long Reach 172
8. Wilde Lake 223
9. Manchester Valley 247
10. Westminster 263
11. Hammond 281
4A East boys (top five advance to states):
1. Severna Park 29
2. South River 89
3. Broadneck 92
4. Arundel 108
5. Howard 111
6. Leonardtown 137
7. Annapolis 172
8. Old Mill 173
9. North County 291
10. Glen Burnie 313
3A East girls
1. Rubie Goffena, Manchester Valley, 19:40
2. Aanchal Kasargod, Atholton, 19:58
3. Michelle Weaver, Centennial, 20:25
4. Caroline Rosenberry, Reservoir, 20:33
5. Sara Jurkovic, Centennial, 20:42
6. Chloe McGeehan, River Hill, 20:43
7. Tess Dandridge, Marriotts Ridge, 20:45
8. Kylie McNamara, Atholton, 20:55
9. Hannah Toth, Westminster, 20:56
10. Jasmine Ives, Mt. Hebron, 20:57
4A East girls
1. Amanda Eliker, Howard, 19:03
2. Niya Torres, Arundel, 19:10
3. Parker O’Brien, Leonardtown, 19:17
4. Nimrit Ahuja, Howard, 19:19
5. Sophia Zell, Severna Park, 19:28
6. Katie Ericson, Annapolis, 19:31
7. Sara Kindbom, Howard, 19:35
8. Grace Denius, Broadneck, 19:38
9. Grace Cambon, Severna Park, 19:44
10. Cara Vandemeulebroecke, Severna Park, 19:47
3A East boys
1. Anish Nanjappa, River Hill, 15:50
2. Jacob Cole, Centennial, 16:10
3. William Tripp, Wilde Lake, 16:32
4. Grayson Max Crockett, Marriotts Ridge, 16:39
5. Antonio Camacho-Bucks, Centennial, 16:45
6. Sean Krein, River Hill, 16:55
7. Awais Khan, River Hill, 17:02
8. Andrew Bank, Centennial, 17:05
9. Cameron Hindle, Long Reach, 17:06
10. Braedon Moyer, Mt. Hebron, 17:06
4A East boys:
1. Sam Keeny, South River, 16:04
2. Jake Gelfand, Severna Park, 16:05
3. Kendall Phillips, Howard, 16:06
4. Tanner Piotrowski, Arundel, 16:13
5. Carson Sloat, Severna Park, 16:24
6. Nick Engleman, Severna Park, 16:30
7. James Dennison, Severna Park, 16:44
8. Spencer Tate, Broadneck, 16:44
9. James Glebocki, Severna Park, 16:48
10. Luke Coffin, Annapolis, 16:57