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The Howard High School girls cross country team has set a new standard for its dominance.

The Lions placed seven runners in the top 10 at the Howard County girls cross country championship at Centennial High School on Wednesday to set what is believed to be a new record with a title-winning score of 17 — only two points more than the minimum.

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“Anytime you win Howard County, you have to be proud,” said Howard coach Zack Dickerson. “This is a very tough county to win in, and to win the way we did, I couldn’t be more proud.”

The Lions were led by Amanda Eliker en route to their second straight county crown. Eliker, a senior, crossed the finish line first with a time of 18:36 — nearly 40 seconds better than any other runner.

“I’m so excited,” Eliker said. “To do it another year in a row is amazing. I love every single one of these girls. We all work so hard.”

The boys meet, however, wasn’t without a record-breaking performance, as River Hill’s Anish Nanjappa set the Centennial High School course record at 15:21 to lead the Hawks to the boys county championship.

“We placed second the last two years to Howard, so to win it this year is exciting,” said Nanjappa, who beat the previous record set by Arundel’s Tanner Piotrowski earlier this season at the Howard County Invitational. “We have a really good squad this year, and I think we’ve improved a lot. We will have really good momentum going into regions and states, hopefully to win those, too.”

The Hawks won with 37 points — 34 ahead of second-place Centennial. Paul Hugus’ squad placed four runners in the top 10. Joshua Galindo finished sixth, while Awais Khan and Sean Krein placed eighth and ninth, respectively.

“It’s a good feeling to win,” Hugus said. “They did a nice job of getting out in the first mile and keeping with the pace. Awais Khan has been running really well the last couple of weeks, and he was third for us. He definitely exceeding the expectation we had for him.”

The boys raced first on Centennial’s hilly course, and Nanjappa set the pace immediately. He was, however, pushed by Oakland Mills’ Baidy Ba, who finished second in 15:30, and Centennial’s Jacob Cole, who was third in 15:40.

“They really did push me,” Nanjappa said. “(Ba) stuck with me for a while. I was getting scared. He and Jake Cole really surprised me. They went for it and stuck with me, and that was great for them.”

Despite Nanjappa’s win, he and Hugus weren’t satisfied. They’re hoping to set another course record at the region meet next week, which is also at Centennial.

“I really wanted at least five seconds faster, maybe 10,” Nanjappa said.

“Anish and I have talked about having two shots at setting this course record," Hugus said. “He wants to set it at a spot where it won’t be touched for a while.”

Eliker’s path to the first-place finish, meanwhile, was a little bumpier than Nanjappa’s. A few weeks ago, Eliker was sidelined for about 10 days with a sinus infection. She missed one meet and ran another at less than 100 percent. Dickerson said if there was any question coming into the race if Eliker “was back,” there isn’t anymore.

Eliker was quick to praise teammates Nimrit Ahuja (second), Sara Kindbom (third), Jasmine Wilson (fourth), Emily Gorny (seventh), Madison Radford (eighth) and Ella Werdell (10th).

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“I always have them to push me to go a little bit faster on each rep,” Eliker said. “I’m proud of all of them.”

“The girls are always pushing each other every day,” Dickerson said. “Without that team aspect, none of the girls would be as good as they are.”

Centennial finished second in both the boys and girls meets. The Eagles tallied 71 points in the boys race and 82 in the girls race. Girls head coach Kevin McCoy said he was “super pleased” with the way his girls ran.

“I’m super pleased,” McCoy said. “I thought we ran fantastic. We knew Howard was really good going into this. We knew if we would run well that we would finish top three, and that’s what we did.”

Boys coach Rob Slopek as equally as happy with how the boys performed. He said the race was a good opportunity to measure themselves against River Hill, which they will run against at regionals and states.

“I’m really proud of them,” Slopek said. “We ran our heads off. Our goal was second or third, and that’s where we finished up. We ran great.”

Every Howard County team is back in action Thursday, Oct. 31, for regionals. Ten of the 12 county teams will be racing at Centennial again for regionals. Howard is the lone 4A school competing in the 4A East regional, while the nine 3A schools will race in the 3A East race — both of which will take place at 2:30 at Centennial. Oakland Mills and Glenelg, meanwhile, will compete in the 2A West meet at Liberty at 2 p.m.

Boys team results:

1. River Hill 37

2. Centennial 71

3. Howard 126

4. Mt. Hebron 130

5. Reservoir 141

6. Marriotts Ridge 142

7. Atholton 172

8. Oakland Mills 229

9. Long Reach 237

10. Glenelg 239

11. Wilde Lake 261

12. Hammond 319

Boys individual results:

1. Anish Nanjappa, River Hill, 15:21 (course record)

2. Baidy Ba, Oakland Mills, 15:30

3. Jacob Cole, Centennial, 15:40

4. Kendall Phillips, Howard, 16:01

5. Grayson Max Crockett, Marriotts Ridge, 16:08

6. Joshua Galindo, River Hill, 16:12

7. William Tripp, Wilde Lake, 16:19

8. Awais Khan, River Hill, 16:24

9. Sean Krein, River Hill, 16:29

10. Antonio Bucks-Camacho, Centennial, 16:31

11. Andrew Bank, Centennial, 16:35

12. Jacob Hauf, Mt. Hebron, 16:37

13. Ryan Rose, River Hill, 16:38

14. Braedon Moyer, Mt. Hebron, 16:40

15. Matthew Thomas, Centennial, 16:41

16. Michael Wade, Marriotts Ridge, 16:43

17. Bradley Hoffman, River Hill, 16:53

18. Julian Vissering, Reservoir, 16:55

19. Dylan Jock, Glenelg, 16:55

20. David Salazar, Oakland Mills, 16:55

21. Zachary Shord, Atholton, 17:01

22. Collin Carter, Reservoir, 17:01

23. Cameron Hindle, Long Reach, 17:04

24. Jakob Werdell, Howard, 17:07

25. Rishi Shet, River Hill, 17:09

Girls team results:

1. Howard 17 (county championship record)

2. Centennial 82

3. River Hill 119

4. Atholton 121

5. Reservoir 141

6. Glenelg 156

7. Oakland Mills 175

8. Mt. Hebron 193

9. Marriotts Ridge 222

10. Long Reach 311

Girls individual results:

1. Amanda Eliker, Howard, 18:36

2. Nimrit Ahuja, Howard, 19:15

3. Sara Kindbom, Howard, 19:17

4. Jasmine Wilson, Howard, 19:22

5. Aanchal Kasargod, Atholton, 19:22

6. Chloe McGeeha, River Hill, 19:27

7. Emily Gorny, Howard, 19:40

8. Madison Radford, Howard, 19:44

9. Katherine Kitzinger, River Hill, 19:51

10. Ella Werdell, Howard, 20:03

11. Caroline Rosenberry, Reservoir, 20:14

12. Sara Jurkovic, Centennial, 20:19

13. Michelle Weaver, Centennial, 20:20

14. Ella Harris, Oakland Mills, 20:24

15. Alexis Shumate, Glenelg, 20:28

16. Mackenzie Dabbs, Centennial, 20:30

17. Isha Santhosh, Atholton, 20:37

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18. Michelle Lei, River Hill, 20:41

19. Tess Dandridge, Marriotts Ridge, 20:43

20. Madelyn Mielke, Centennial, 20:46

21. Amaya Cunningham, Centennial, 20:48

22. Apoorva Ajith, Centennial, 20:48

23. Milana Gurvich, Glenelg, 20:54

24. Jasmine Ives, Mt. Hebron, 20:54

25. Marie Pejcic, Hammond, 20:55

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