Saturday sporting events can be difficult for high school teams.
No, not because of possible Friday night shenanigans or early start times, but rather student-athletes taking standardized tests for college applications.
River Hill’s best boys cross country runner Anish Nanjappa couldn’t compete in the Howard County Invitational Saturday at Centennial High School because he was taking the ACT. The absence, however, didn’t phase River Hill, as the Hawks finished first in the 20-team meet. The Hawks placed five runners in the top 20 to finish with 67 points, edging out Oakdale by 38.
“We’ve talked over the last week about running today without Anish,” said River Hill coach Paul Hugus. “Our boys were fired up. We wanted to exercise our depth and show what we have, and I think we did."
The Hawks’ scoring runners were Joshua Galindo (ninth), Sean Krein (11th), Awais Khan (12th), Bradley Hoffman (16th) and Ryan Rose (19th). Hugus was pleased with his team’s pacing, with Rose finishing only 33 seconds behind Galindo (16:12).
“We came out (Nos.) 1 through 7 with a minute difference, which was huge,” Hugus said. “We came in expecting to have a really good performance, and the boys delivered today. We raced really well as a team. If we do that throughout the rest of the season, we’re going to have great results at the county, region and state meets.”
The Broadneck girls team displayed its dominance, placing six runners in the top 11 to win with 32 points. Broadneck beat second-place finishing Leonardtown by 66 points.
The Bruins’ scorers were by Anna Janke, Mollie Fenn, Grace Denius, Jasmine Jones and Madison Palmer. Janke crossed the finish line in 19:05 for second place.
“I told them today that they had the chance to win and that we needed to run as a team," said Broadneck head coach Brianna Bostic. "With Anna and Molly as our (Nos.) 1 and 2 and our (Nos.) 3 through 6 coming in and pushing up was a huge plus. I didn’t expect to have five in the top 10, but that’s great.”
Arundel had the top runner in both the girls and boys meets. Niya Torres won the girls meet in 18:55, and senior Tanner Piotrowski won the boys race with a personal best time of 15:25.
Last season, Piotrowski was the 4A indoor track 800-meter state champion, qualified for nationals in the mile and finished 11th at the cross country state championships.
“I kind of expected a PR (personal record) coming in," Piotrowski said. "Coming down the hill, I felt like I was opening up the gap, and I got a little bit of a kick there.”
The top Howard County finisher in the boys meet was Oakland Mills’ Baidy Ba, who finished fourth with a time of 15:48. The time was a personal best by 48 seconds for Ba, who is in his second season running cross country.
“This is my first time running in the HoCo Invitational," Ba said. "Last year, I was checking times.”
The best Howard County runner in the girls meet was Atholton’s Aanchal Kasargod, who crossed the finish line in fifth place with a time of 19:40.
Kasargod led the Raiders to a third-place finish — the top placement of the Howard County teams at the invitational.
“We did our planning sheets before the meet, and she said she’d finish fifth, and that’s exactly what she did,” said Atholton coach Earl Lauer. "She’s a really hard worker, and she’s just going to get better as the year goes on.”
Lauer said the strong competition in the invitational is an important measuring stick for his runners. The invitational featured strong programs from across the state like Leonardtown, Broadneck, Liberty and South River.
“This is what it’s all about,” Lauer said. “You want to set the bar high and try to get there.”
Centennial High School will also play host to the Class 3A East and 4A East regionals on Thursday, Oct. 31.