Oakland Mills senior Brit Lang has always been a part of the Scorpions running community, even before she stepped foot on campus.
"Oakland Mills has always been a part of my heart, because it hasn't been just a four-year thing for me — it's been a life-long thing since my parents have always been coaching there," said Lang, whose parents, Phil and Vicki, have coached at the school for more than 20 years. "I've been watching the state meet since I was four years old. I would always go to practice with them and at the end of the year when they gave the coaches gifts they used to give me and my sister (Tiffany) gifts too because we've always just been a part of the team."
But as soon as Lang began her own career at Oakland Mills, she burst onto the scene. She won 2A regional and state titles her freshman year — becoming the first female in school history to win a cross country state championship — and then capped off that season as the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times girls Runner of the Year.
In her final stint with the Scorpions this fall, she replicated her success, taking home county and regional titles, as well as a second place finish at the 2A state meet. She dominated the competition during the county championships at Centennial, placing first with a time of 18 minutes, 28.14 seconds. She then cruised to first place at 2A South regional, crossing the finish at 19:34.30 — 30 seconds faster than the next runner.
Centennial girls cross country, have four top-10 finishers, propelling them to a top team score at the HoCo championships Thursday. River Hill boys also placed first overall, led by senior Trent Rose's first place finish
"I had a lot of success this season, even more than I thought I was going to have," said Lang. "On average, (my times) were a lot better than I thought they would be. It was kind of cool actually, because the other day I was talking to my mom and she said a lot of the times I ran this year, in her head, she thought I could run. So it was kind of cool that I got to where she had in her head, even though it was a little better than I thought I could run."
Despite not getting another state title under her belt, she was happy about how she ended her final year running cross country for the Scorpions.
"It's gone really well, I couldn't really ask for much more," Lang added. "I got a state title my freshman year, two county titles my junior and senior year, and I'm just thrilled that I've been improving every year and been able to stay as successful for my four years.
"(This year's 2A state title) race was really a race for second because Haley (Jackson) just really took off. With that race there was not much more I could have done. I don't think I could have made up 40 seconds, so I got as high as I could — so yeah, I was really happy with how I did throughout the season."
Lofty expectations always surrounded Lang, even before her success in the sport. Her sister Tiffany won a county title in 2011, the year before Brit came in as a freshman. Tiffany was the first girl to bring home a county title in Oakland Mills history, and then concluded her senior year with her own Runner of the Year honors.
Brit also set the bar high for herself, coming out of the gates as one of the best runners in the county as a talented 14-year old. But the pressure that surrounded her never engulfed her, even when she battled through injury her sophomore year. Instead she bounced back and continued her dominance, becoming stronger and more mentally prepared with each race.
"There's always been some added pressure there for myself, and just from what I assume that other people expect from me and stuff. But I try not to let it get to me as much as possible," Lang said. "I kind of grew up through running and kind of have gotten used to the atmosphere and been able to handle all of it really well. So I just try to have fun with it as much as possible and not really think of any expectations or anything. I just do the best I can because I know at the end of the day that's all you can do.
"Back (as a freshman) I was still a pretty talented runner, but over the years I've learned a lot about competition and I've just grown a lot mentally," she added. "Even with endurance with my mind going through some of that injury stuff, as frustrating as it was it kind of helped me grow mentally. Like I can get through it, even though I was hurt it got me where I am now. Being able to get over that hump helped me a lot mentally."
Though cross country season is over, Brit is still representing the orange and black as she heads into the indoor track and field season. But as the year winds down and her plans to run collegiately become closer, she realizes she has to move on from a program she grew up around.
"I think at this point I'm ready to go on to the next step," she said. "It'll be a little weird and difficult just being away from that, and away from all the traditions we have. It'll be a difficult change, but I think it'll be good for me to get a change, and grow just in life."
Postseason highlights: Second in the county championship meet (19:43.77). Finished first in the 3A East regional championship meet (19:37.27). Placed ninth in the 3A state championship meet (20:26.50).
Postseason highlights: Third in the county championship meet (19:50.65). Finished seventh in the 2A West regional championship meet (20:45.70). Placed ninth in the 2A state championship meet (20:17.23).
Courtney Mann, Howard
Postseason highlights: Fourth in the county championship meet (19:54.24). Finished eighth in the 4A North regional championship meet (19:57.80). Placed 36th in the 4A state championship meet (20:42.74).
Postseason highlights: Seventh in the county championship meet (20:09.78). Finished sixth in the 3A East regional championship meet (20:28.34). Placed 10th in the 3A state championship meet (20:26.60).
Abigail Starks, Marriotts Ridge
Postseason highlights: Fifth in the county championship meet (19:54.58). Finished sixth in the 2A West regional championship meet (20:35.20). Placed 24th in the 2A state championship meet (20:55.35).
Postseason highlights: Sixth in the county championship meet (19:55.03). Finished second in the 3A East regional championship meet (19:47.40). Placed seventh in the 3A state championship meet (20:10.40).