Going through the ranks of the touted River Hill cross country program, senior Trent Rose knew it was his turn to take the reigns entering the 2015 season.
"It was really fun. I enjoyed it a lot. It was really different because in previous years, Chris (Heydrick) kind of dominated the scene for River Hill, so it was a little different taking on that leadership," said Rose. "We had a really united team this year. We are all really good friends, even outside of cross country. It wasn't too difficult of a transition. It just had a different feel to it, just going into races and mental preparation and stuff."
Rose turned out to be a natural leader, guiding the Hawks to their second consecutive 3A state title. And, just like Heydrick before him, he has earned the Columbia Flier/ Howard County Times boys Runner of the Year honors.
The senior began the postseason confidently. He handily beat out the competition at the county championships, crossing first with a time of 16 minutes, 13.93 seconds. His time was nearly 12 seconds faster than everyone else.
Then he took home an individual 3A East regional title on the same course less than a week later. And finally, he led his team through a rigorous state course at Hereford High School, coming in third and crossing with a time of 16 minutes and 27.66 seconds, helping the Hawks repeat.
"I had a bunch of goals heading into the year, and I hit a few, but there were a good chunk that didn't happen for various reasons," said Rose. "But overall, I was pleased with the season and how many goals I was able to reach."
Rose led a strong team that boasted three top-10 finishers and four in the top-26. Along with states, River Hill also won regionals and counties by a 30-plus point margin.
"I don't know about stronger, but as strong," said Rose, comparing the two state title teams. "We lost Mark (Moody), Chris and Liam (Pederson), but reloaded really well. Next year we will probably be stronger than this year, because of the depth the upcoming years have."
Behind Rose in 2015 were juniors Rahul Reddy, Jacob Parker, Andrew Meininger and Benjamin Oldhouser. Those four rounded out the Hawks top-five runners.
Reddy and Parker had fantastic performances in their own right, with Reddy placing no worse than seventh in the postseason races, while Parker managed a top-10 finish as well in all three races.
Rose believes the talent and depth on the team is what aided him to get better each year.
"It helped a lot," he said. "I think one of the reasons why I was able to perform as well as I did, really every year, is because I had so many great runners pushing me. I knew they were right behind me during practices and during races, and that really helped me going forward."
After a terrific season, Rose said River Hill coach Paul Hugus talked to him individually following the Hawks' championship run, and issued some advice.
"He talked to me after states (and) said he was happy with how I did," Rose reiterated. "But there's always things to improve on and just to move forward."
Although cross country season is over, Rose is looking forward to continuing to run for River Hill in indoor and outdoor track. But in the meantime, he must decide which college he'll attend in the fall. Cornell and Bucknell are his top choices, and he hopes to run for either program if he has the opportunity.
"There's a few colleges I'm looking at, some of them I will be able to run at and some of them it will be close," he said. "I really want to, because some graduates from River Hill, I asked them about running and they say they like it a lot. The team is built similar like it is here, where they're looking out for each other, so I'd love to do that."
No matter where he goes, he'll continue running, but he hopes it will be competitively.
"Running itself, I always enjoy running," said Rose. "If I couldn't run in college for a team, I would probably still run by myself. But I'd rather run (on a team) because I enjoy the competition."
But for more of an immediate plan, Rose and his teammates are thinking about doing another type of long-distance run together.
"As a team, we were thinking of doing some special kind of run, something with a bunch of variants in it," he said.
Named to the all-county first team is:
Greg Bisant, Mt. Hebron
Postseason highlights: Fifth at the county championship meet (16:41.26). Finished fifth in the 3A East regional meet championship meet (16:46.80). Placed 17th at the 3A state championship meet (17:12.09).
Nick Deamer, Howard
Postseason highlights: Third at the county championship meet (16:29.15). Finished fifth in the 4A North regional championship meet (16:21.98). Placed eighth at the 4A state championship meet (16:34.68).
Joey Navarro, Oakland Mills
Postseason highlights: Second at the county championship meet (16:25.34). Finished seventh in the 2A West regional championship meet (17:39.70). Placed fifth at the 2A state championship meet (16:53.70).
Jacob Parker, River Hill
Postseason highlights: Sixth at the county championship meet (16:44.06). Finished seventh at the 3A East regional meet (16:51.82). Placed eighth in the 3A state championship meet (16:56.99).
Rahul Reddy, River Hill
Postseason highlights: Fourth at the county championship meet (16:36.54). Finished second in the 3A East regional championship meet (16:42.47). Placed seventh at the 3A state championship meet (16:54.20).