Oakland Mills' Brit Lang grew up idolizing some of the county's best runners, including Mt. Hebron alumna Liz McCarter. So fittingly, in Lang's final county championship meet, she cemented her place among the leagues all-time bests Monday at Long Reach High School, breaking McCarter's record set nine years ago in the 3,200-meter race.
"It's great. You know, this whole county running program has just been a big part of my life," Lang said after crossing with a record time of 10 minutes and 43.99 seconds. "Like when I was a younger kid I even knew the girl who had the record. I used to see her and idolize her when I was younger, and watching these younger girls run, just to see like I am where those girls were, it's just amazing. I am just so happy that I was able to do this my last year, just kind of go out with a bang."
Lang jumped out in front and had established a wide gap after the first lap of the two-mile race. She felt confident going into the afternoon after a strong showing at the Penn Relays April 30 – where she was the only runner from Howard County to qualify in an individual event.
"I was definitely hoping it and I felt really good throughout the day. I've been feeling good for awhile and at Penn (Relays) I ran the 3,000 and ran 10:02, which converts to a 10:46 – so I was looking (what) to run, somewhere where my conversion would have been," Lang explained. "I wasn't sure, because at Penn you have all that adrenaline and all that major competition just surrounding you, so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull it off, but I was just trying to stay as motivated as possible and I definitely pulled it off. The race was as good as it could have been I think."
Lang smoked McCarter's 2007 time of 10:49.02, and crossed well in front of second-place finisher, Howard's Courtney Mann (11:27.27). Centennial's Alison Betler followed Mann, while River Hill's Anna Latzko finished fourth in the race.
"I went out, started running and as I got through the half it was like a 2:35 and I was like, 'that's fast' – I definitely went out too fast, which I have a problem with that, but that gave me a little bit of a cushion for the second half in case I died a little bit," Lang said. "But I definitely felt like I held on as strong as I could and finished the best I could find in me."
Lang's win marked the second first-place finish on the afternoon for the Scorpions, who also crossed first in the boy's 4x800-meter relay.
"Hebron is certainly fantastic. They were the number one seed coming in. Howard's got some phenomenal guys too. They've put up some great individual efforts this year, so we knew they would be great," said Oakland Mills coach Phil Lang, whose team of Kelsey White, Sean Smith, Jared Nguyen and Joey Navarro beat out the Vikings and Lions with a time of 8 minutes and 5.86 seconds Monday. "We thought we would be in the hunt somewhere in there with these bigger schools. They're totally awesome as well, but I didn't think any of the three of us would run 3:05 today and all three of us ran sub 8:10 I believe, so that is just a heck of an effort for the Howard County schools as whole I think and I am certainly proud of my guys. That was special, really good."
The Scorpions, coming off a 2A indoor state title in the 4x8 were determined to show their prowess in the same event in outdoor against the counties best, especially because there was no county meet held during the winter.
"The county meet not happening for indoor was a bummer for a lot of us, in particular for these four guys," Phil Lang said. "This was an event they wanted to specialize in this year, so when you didn't even get that chance to run against your county foes in the indoor championships because of the snow, it was a bummer for us. That's going to leave a mark on those guys, being able to do what they did today. They'll remember that for a long time I'm sure."
Mt. Hebron was the number-one seed entering the meet and got out in front in the beginning of the race, but Navarro finally caught up to the Vikings, passing off the baton to two-time indoor gold-medalist, White, who anchored the first-place outing.
"It's been amazingly special. I have had a lot more fun coaching with these guys around, but they've really taken care of each other," Phil Lang said. "They've really worked hard and they've set some goals (and) they wanted to be great at this event right here, the 4x8 and I am so proud of them. It was a super fast time – 8:05 – that exceeds our goals. That was amazing."
Howard caught ground midway through the race and edged out the Vikings for second place, crossing in 8 minutes and 8.49 seconds, while Mt. Hebron finished third with a time of 8 minutes and 10.93 seconds.
Atholton girl's 4x8 relay team dominated its respective race, finishing with a time of 9 minutes and 36.44 seconds, which beat out River Hill (9:49) and Howard (9:52.06), respectively.
However, the Lions girl's 4x200-meter relay team made up the points later in the afternoon, as Tyler Reid, Sabrina Marquez, Teanna Jules and Sherise Scott set a PR with a first-place time of 1 minute and 43.58 seconds.
"We were nervous because we were told that teams like Hammond and Reservoir and Atholton were really coming for us," Marquez said. "We were like 'OK, well no one's run below a 1:46 except for us, so lets just get a 1:44 and we just killed it and got a 1:43 and I couldn't be happier… really excited to prove ourselves again (Tuesday). To prove that we have it and it's not a fluke today."
The Raiders placed second with a time of 1 minute and 44.59 seconds, followed by the Gators (1:45.59), Wilde Lake (1:47.39) and the Golden Bears (1:47.45).
"It feels amazing to me. I knew we had amazing competition – we knew Atholton was really good, but I knew coming into counties we had a good chance of coming in first all around for that, so I was confident in us," Reid said.
"For me, the 4x2 is my favorite race and I run it with my best track friends so it really motivates me and yeah, it's just a lot of fun," Scott added. "This win is like extra motivation to go in and do as well and do the best that we can."
Howard is in good shape to finish with top times in both the 4x400 and 4x100-meter relays and with Monday's win it gives them a lot of confidence moving into day two.
"We just motivate each other to do really well," Jules said. "Our 4x4, we won counties last year, so we're going to bring it again."
It was a tight race in the boy's 4x2, with Glenelg (1:31.75), Reservoir (1:31.94), Marriotts Ridge (1:32.58) and Mt. Hebron (1:33.72) all within two seconds of each other.
Howard earned two more first-place performances in two field events, as Bayli Smith – coming off a 4A state title in shot put – won the girls discuss, throwing 105-10, while Adeola Abdulkadir jumped 37-05 in the triple jump.
Dae'trell Gordon won the boys shot put for Atholton, throwing 45-06, while Centennial's Elijah White placed first in the boy's high jump, finishing with 6-03.
River Hill enjoyed two first-place finishes from Sophie Caplan and Trent Rose. Caplan, coming off a 3A indoor state title in pole vault, won Monday in the same event, clearing 9-0.6, edging out Reservoir's Katie Krutz (9-6.00).
It was a battle between Rose and the Lions' Nick Deamer in the boy's 3,200, as the two ran side by side for nearly the whole race, until Rose pulled away with two laps to go.
"When he passed me I noticed when he was running he was dropping his arm a lot and it looked like he was tired, so I knew that if I could kick it with 700 to go – because you can never be sure you're going to win, but I knew if I had two laps I could start the gap," Rose recalled. "When I passed him I put a little boost because I saw that he didn't want to chase me. I felt like if I could get far enough away – I felt like if he could have kept up, he would've been able to pass me."
It's a friendly rivalry between the two runners, as they've duked it out in outdoor and indoor track as well as cross country, but on Monday Rose defeated Deamer by more than 10 seconds, crossing at 9 minutes and 39 seconds. Rose entered the race with a prelim time of 10 minutes and 10 seconds.
"So I only ran one other two-mile this season, which was at a tri-meet and I had just gotten back from a 10-day trip to China, so I didn't get to run that much there, plus the air – so I knew my time wasn't what it should be coming in. I didn't know what it was, but I had a feeling I could take Deamer, so I was expecting to at least cut to his PR," Rose said. "I like counties or you know, whenever the two of us are there it's usually a heated battle between us. I enjoy it a lot. I know it's great to have someone that I know that will always give their best and always be with me that I can race with –because sometimes we go into those big invites and I don't know anybody there and some people run the races with different styles and I like Deamer's style, because it works similar to mine."
The Hawks Rahul Reddy followed Deamer for third place with a time of 9 minutes and 51.30 seconds, while the Gators received back-to-back finishes from Kai Muniz (9:53.96) and William Christian (9:57.67) for fifth and sixth-place, respectively.
"I love counties because I think I have the best relationships among runners with people in counties, like Deamer, Navarro, Kai and Christian from Reservoir – I'm great friends with them and I know they can run," Rose said. "I hope that eventually in the summer I can run with them, maybe just like a fun run or something, so I do enjoy counties because I know who's going to be there, whereas indoor regions we kind of combined schools, which is I think different than what we did for outdoor."