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Howard senior Nimrit Ahuja breaks records on way to Howard County cross country girls Runner of Year | Fall 2021 All-County

Howard senior Nimrit Ahuja is the fall 2021 Howard County girls cross country Runner of the Year.
Howard senior Nimrit Ahuja is the fall 2021 Howard County girls cross country Runner of the Year. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media)

As Howard cross country senior Nimrit Ahuja crossed the finish line at this year’s county championship meet in late October, her past struggles on the Centennial High School course were erased from memory.

Past shortcomings turned into triumph, as she set a course record with a time of 18:21.8, breaking the record held by former teammate Amanda Eliker — a previous Howard County girls runner of the year.

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For Ahuja, it was just one race. But it was a first-place finish that encapsulated her mental toughness and development as a runner.

“When I crossed the line and saw the time I was really shocked because that was about a minute faster than I ran last year,” Ahuja said. “To break the record from Amanda was just a carrying on the legacy type of situation because she was a role model I had my sophomore year.

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“To see all of my teammates finish within a minute of me, we all could celebrate together. It’s just a really great feeling to know that my teammates are with me all the time.”

Almost every step of the way this fall, Ahuja excelled in the biggest races and because of that has been named the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier Fall 2021 girls runner of the year.

It marks her second consecutive season winning a Howard County Athlete of the Year award, as she was earned the distinction in the spring during outdoor track and field.

Howard senior Nimrit Ahuja won a county and 3A East region title this fall.
Howard senior Nimrit Ahuja won a county and 3A East region title this fall. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media)

Even with a county title under her belt, Ahuja wasn’t done. She broke her own record on the same course a week later at the 3A East Region Championships with a time of 18:13.30. Just as important, her efforts — along with those of her teammates — helped the Lions clinch both the county and regional team titles.

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“Coming into the season we had some pretty lofty goals that included winning the three championship races at the end of the year,” Howard coach Zachary Dickerson said. “I think having a group of girls that are all similar ability and have the same goals, holding each other accountable. It’s not a group of seven individuals it’s a team. What made this team and Nimrit so special was I as a coach didn’t have to do that. That was intrinsic for her and intrinsic for the team.”

Once again, with Ahuja playing an integral part by finishing in sixth place (19:18.84), the Lions kept things rolling by capturing the 3A state title on Nov. 13 at Hereford High School.

Beyond the team accolades, Ahuja capped off her cross country career with a new personal record time at nationals. Finishing the 5,000-meter race in 17:40:90, Ahuja placed 71st nationally and first among runners from the state of Maryland.

“[Nimrit] is really good at preparing for races, making sure she’s as physically ready as she can be, but mentally tough too,” Dickerson said. “She just takes it really serious and I think that proved itself with her times that she’s run this year.”

Creating memories both on and off the course, Ahuja’s running career will continue moving forward as she’s committed to Brown University.

“I’m proud of the way I’ve been able to develop mentally with the mentality of tough courses,” Ahuja said.

First team All-County

Elizabeth Holcombe, Howard senior

Postseason highlights: Finished second at the county championships (18:26.3), third at the 3A East regional (18:30.4), and fourth at the 3A state championships (19:09.40).

Kiley Mann, Howard sophomore

Postseason highlights: Finished third at the county championships (18:47.3), second at the 3A East regional (18:24.4), and seventh at the 3A state championships (19:25.80).

Chloe McGeehan, River Hill senior

Postseason highlights: Finished fourth at the county championships (18:57.9), sixth at the 3A East regional (19:06.8), and 10th at the 3A state championships (19:55.12).

Frankie Moore, Oakland Mills sophomore

Postseason highlights: Finished seventh at the county championships (19:36.5), third at the 2A West regional (20:51.74), and sixth at the 2A state championships (20:29.82).

Hannah Schwab, Howard senior

Postseason highlights: Finished fifth at the county championships (19:00.5), fourth at the 3A East regional (18:33.5), and ninth at the 3A state championships (19:50.30).

Kaila Spence, Glenelg senior

Postseason highlights: Finished eighth at the county championships (19:42.8), second at the 2A West regional (20:36.85), and fourth at the 2A state championships (20:21.13).

Jasmine Wilson, Howard senior

Postseason highlights: Finished sixth at the county championships (19:10.3), fifth at the 3A East regional (18:36.1), and 11th at the 3A state championships (20:02.53).

Second team All-County

Leilah Clark, Reservoir senior

Lily Decker, Oakland Mills sophomore

Rachel Roberts, Marriotts Ridge senior

Caroline Rosenberry, Reservoir senior

Chiara Sforza, Atholton senior

Gabrielle Shord, Atholton freshman

Gabby Teachey, Mt. Hebron junior

IAAM B Conference All-Star

Katie Leavy, Glenelg Country senior

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