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Centennial girls, River Hill boys cross country claim 3A state titles

In cross country, every team talks about running as a pack. While it may be harder said than done, it's the team's that do it best that take home the hardware at the end of the season each November.

No team epitomized pack-running better than the Centennial girls cross country team on Saturday at Hereford High School. The Eagles placed five runners in the top 20, including four in the top-15, en route to a dominating performance and a state championship with 68 points.

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"We came into it knowing we had a legitimate shot at four in the top-15. And then I told my freshman this morning, Ill take a check at the mile mark and I'll see where you are, and if we're sitting there and are in a range of some places, we're going to go get it," recalled Eagles coach Kevin McCoy. "And I looked at her and she was coming up the dip the first time, and she was pretty much at 19-to-22ish (minute mark), so I said, just go get it. Go run them down – and she did, and she got 19th."

But it was senior Devin McIntyre who led the way for the Eagles, running her best race of the season to finish 10th with a time of 20 minutes and 26.6 seconds.

"She had her best race in the season by far," McCoy said. "Devin is a gamer, no matter what. She has her bumps in the road during the season… but I know when it comes down to it, when we need this girl she will show up. And actually Devin now has completed a four-year sweep of going top-15 at counties, regionals and states for four straight years. Her entire career, she doesn't know how to not medal in a championship race. I haven't been at Centennial for long, but I'm sure that puts her with one of the best runners Centennial has had to offer. That's an absurd stat."

Teammates Kara Taylor (13th), Jessica Jiang (14th), Ashley Mazer (17th) and Alison Betler (19th) were not far behind.

"I literally ran that as fast as I possibly could," McIntyre said shortly after the race. "The whole time I was thinking, last race, I just got to give it my all. I don't care if I'm tired I just have to push it… we worked so hard for this we couldn't have taken the loss, we wanted it so much. It's gradually gotten better and better, and now coming to states it all just paid off. We ran so well."

Centennial beat out last year's 3A state champs River Hill, which earned third-place honors on Saturday. Sophomore Jasmine Tiamfook was the top runner for the Hawks, as she placed seventh with a time of 20:10.4 in brutal winds.

"It feels good," said Tiamfook, who was recovering from an injury. "I've been trying to push through all the pain because I knew it was going to be worth it when I get here. And I definitely was, because my team needed me and we just needed to pull it out today."

Teammates Alexa Matthews (31st), Collen Krein (34th), Anna Latzko (37th) and Owen Dannelly (39th) rounded out the top-five for the Hawks.

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Mt. Hebron also showed well, with Alexandra Banham leading the way. The sophomore finished ninth overall, with a time of 20:26.5, which helped her team get a fifth place finish.

Other standouts include Atholton's Celine Pisanic (20th) and Alaina Bosmans (26st), the Vikings Ellie Gustafson (22nd), Wilde Lake's Julia Orloff (38th) and Reservoir's Annabel Cortez (33rd) and Heather Ailinger (35th).

For overall team scores, the Eagles dominated with 68 points, and River Hill (128 points), Towson (129) and Mt. Hebron (205) rounded out the top-five. The Raiders finished 10th, with a score of 267, with Reservoir (296) and Wilde Lake (329) coming in 13th and 14th, respectively.

River Hill boys win back-to-back 3A state titles

In the beginning of the season, the Hawks set a high bar for themselves as reigning 3A state champions. On Saturday, they placed three in the top-10 to help them clinch their second consecutive state title.

"I loved it. It is a great feeling," said River Hill coach Paul Hugus. "We knew Trent (Rose) was going to set the pace up there, and we needed to have Rahul (Reddy) and Jake Parker run really well. And I'll tell you what, Jake ran out of his mind today. And (Andrew) Mieninger at 15, so five in top-30, that's going to get it done. So I'm really happy with where they've been all year and they were able to finish out the year really strong."

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Rose was the Hawks top finisher, placing third in 16:25.93, right behind Northern-Calvert's and South Hagerstown's Matt Bennett and Darren Harman.

"Not good enough I don't think. I think I could have done better," he said shortly after the race. "But (my team) always do(es) excellent and they never disappoint."

With Rose leading the pack, it was the Hawks seond, third, fourth and fifth guys that helped the Hawks claim another title. Rahul Reddy (seventh), Jake Parker (eithgh), Meininger (14th) and Ben Oldhouser (26th) rounded out the group with their top-26 placing. Reddy and Parker came in back-to-back with times of 16:54.2 and 16:56.99, respectively.

"Feels really good, and feels really good to know we're only losing Trent in our top seven, bringing a lot of juniors and sophomores back," added Hugus. "So next year too, we have some confidence in that."

Atholton placed second overall behind the two-time champs, as Daniel Smolyak (10th), Francisco Lefors (12th) and Benjamin Rosicky (23rd) led the Raiders.

"I couldn't be more proud of them," said Raiders coach Chris Clark. "They deserve this. They put a lot of work in, and it was an up and down season, so to finally get – the goal was top two all year – what they deserve is great, especially it being so close.

"We train to be able to run in late October and November, and it all came together just in time for regionals and states. That's partially how we train and that's partially how they responded to not running well in a couple races later in the year. They toughed through it and they believed in it."

Urbana followed the Hawks and Raiders, finishing third, while Northern-Calvert and Mt. Hebron round out the top-five teams. The Gators placed 12th overall as a team, while Glenelg came in 17th.

Howard County littered the top-25 for both the boys and girls side of the 3A races, as Taimfook (seventh), Banham (ninth), McIntyre (10th), Taylor (13th), Jiang (14th), Mazer (17th), Betler (19th), Pisanic (20th) and Gustafson (22nd) all earned top times for the girls, and Mt. Hebron's Jake Edmondson (12th), Greg Bisant (17th) also finished in the top tier for the boys.

Howard boys place fourth overall, while girls place 10th in 4A races

The Lions Nick Deamer stayed amongst the top of the pack halfway through the race, even eyeing a top-three finish. But through the rigorous Hereford course, and facing off againsth the top runners in the state from Dulaney and Severna Park, the sophomore crossed the finish line in 16:34.68 for an eighth place finish.

"I really liked it. I was trying to get into that top-10 and I got eighth," Deamer said. "It was disappointing because I couldn't run at Bull Run (which is the same course as states) and to improve from last year by a minute is really good."

Deamer led the way for Howard, which placed second overall at regionals on Nov. 5. Gavin Reynolds (28th), Brian Goulet (40th) and Ryan Gunderson (51st) followed Deamer in finishes for the Lions.

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"It's really good, and I'm proud of our team. I think we did really good today," Deamer said. "Brian Goulet from the last race broke 17 (minutes) at regionals, and I think that really helped his confidence today."

On the girls side for the Lions, junior Courtney Mann had the best finish on the day, crossing in 20:42.74. Teammates Taylor Jaranyi and Emily Hawkins followed soon after with times of 20:59.58 and 21:01.97, respectively.

"As a team I think we finished really good," said Mann. "The finish was tough, went really fast, but that's what running is all about."

Walter Johnson won the 4A boys title, and Dulaney, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Broadneck and Walt Whitman rounded out the top five.

Oakland Mills boys take second in 2A, while Britt Lang and Grace Chaverini have top finishes for the Scorpions girls.

Oakland Mills coach Phil Lang embraced his entire team Saturday afternoon, after his boys team had a stellar performance that placed second overall in the 2A race.

"We were real good at counties, so we were real confident going into regionals, and thought we had a real shot to win there and set the stage for a possible win here, but regionals did not go well," said Oakland Mills coach Phil Lang. "Our seven guys did not run well, and that was really not normal, we haven't had anything like that all year, and very shocked and concerned. And as a coach, you start wondering, "what did I do wrong?" We just had a much better season than that, so you don't want to end badly. We just wanted end on a high note, and I think that's everybody's goal and there is no doubt that we did that today. I think we were really good."

Joey Navarro was leading the Scorpions and at one point even had his eye at the front of the pack, running side-by-side with eventual winner, South Carroll's Brian Cave. Navarro finished fifth overall in 16:53.7 seconds.

"He's been that good all year," Lang said of Navarro. "We knew the two guys he'd be chasing would be Brian Cave from South Carroll and Nick Tilson from Liberty, and we were thinking he was one of the top three guys, but you got to actually do it. Last Thursday (at regionals) he didn't do it, and this afternoon he certainly did. What a race he had today."

The rest of Oakland Mills squad also performed well, bouncing back in style.

Jared Nguyen (17th, 17:27.82), Fredrick Eiland Li (24th (17:53.75), Kelsey White (26th, 17:58.41), and Gavin Kohn (27th, 17:59.24) helped the Scorpions achieve their second-place finish.

Lang was most impressed with Kohen. After a break-out sophomore campaign in 2014, the junior had somewhat of a down year but performed well when it counted.

"Gavin Kohen, he was really our number two guy last year, and this year he has been really good, but a couple seconds behind last year and he was a sophomore last year and a junior this year, and you expect to get better," said Lang. "And he ran really well today. He ran his best race of the year today. I'm pretty confident he is already looking forward to running next year after running well here today."

Marriotts Ridge placed 11th overall as a team, with its top performer senior Ibrahim Jirdeh finishing 18th (17:32.30).

Liberty just edged out the Scorpions for first place with 89 points to Oakland Mills' 92. Winters Mill (116), Century (133) and Calvert (133) round out the top-five teams.

On the girls side, Britt Lang and Grace Chaverini were the only runners who qualified for the state race and both turned out a terrific performance. Lang finished second (behind Patuxtent's Hayley Jackson, who ran 18:23.54), with a time of 19:07.67, while Chaverini placed ninth overall and crossed in 20:17.23.

"I'm extremely happy. If you saw Haley's race there was nothing more I could have done. I gave everything that I had today, and I know she did too," said Lang. "Obviously my freshman year was the year that I was able to get the victory. And then sophomore year I was injured so I didn't run really well, and then last year I placed fifth and I was pretty happy with that, and then today I knew I could have gone anywhere knowing how well these girls are running. I knew I could have been anywhere from first to fifth in the matter of a few seconds, so I am extremely happy with second. Like I said, I gave everything I had today, so I think it paid off really well."

Lang was not only happy about her finish. She is looking forward to seeing Chaverini continue to improve as she takes over as the top runner of the team next year.

"I am so proud of her… just to see her grow, even last year I thought she was doing incredible and this year she completely stepped up," Lang said of Chaverini. "I think she knew our team was going to need it this year, so she completely stepped up. She is doing amazing, and I'm so excited to be able to watch her and hear about her for the next two years in high school. I think she will just keep improving."

Hereford won the 2A girls, while Marriotts Ridge finished eighth overall behind Century, Catoctin, Liberty, Calvert, South Carroll and Walkersville.

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