Centennial senior Kevin Hill nipped Oakland Mills junior Greg Curtis by two seconds to lead the Eagles to their second straight Howard County boys cross country championship yesterday at Howard Community College's three-mile course.
And the Centennial girls, paced by All-Metro sophomore Kari Meyer's third-place finish, romped to their second straight county title despite Glenelg senior Alicia Adams' third straight victory.
Oakland Mills finished second in both the boys and girls races and trailed by only eight points in the boys race.
"It was very close," Centennial coach Al Dodds said. "Oakland Mills seemed extra prepared to knock us off. I wasn't sure we had it won until the last half-mile."
Centennial's top three boys -- Hill (16 minutes, 37 seconds), third-place finisher Bobby Van Allen (16:56) and seventh-place finisher Steve Olenick (17:11) -- ran pretty much as expected.
Crucial for Centennial's victory were the efforts of Tom Mazcko (17:50), who finished 15th, and Mike French (18:02), who was 18th.
Centennial's top three finished ahead of Oakland Mills second-best runner, sophomore Steve Petro (17:12), who was ninth. Eric Larsen (17:26) was 10th, Bryan Drake (17:31) was 12th and Micah Hart (18:08) was 19th for the Scorpions.
Hill held off Curtis in the race for first place.
"I was very worried about him and looked back all through the race. I was pretty dead at the end," said Hill, who transferred to Centennial this fall from a school in Philadelphia.
Curtis and teammate Petro led until about the half-mile mark when Hill surged past on a hill.
"It seemed like he wanted us to take the lead," Curtis said. "The early pace was slow."
Hill said that once the race began he felt comfortable tucked in behind the two Oakland Mills runners who shielded him from the wind.
"I didn't want to go out too fast," Hill said. "I was hoping to put him[Curtis] away at the 1 1/2 -mile mark when I heard him breathing pretty hard, but he wouldn't quit."
Faisal Hassan (17:01) finished fourth to lead a revitalized Wilde Lake team to a fifth-place finish after it had finished last a year ago.
Adams became only the second runner to win three girls championships, joining Centennial's Debbie Paladino, who won in 1978, 1979 and 1980.
A week ago she had set a course record at Glenelg of 18:42, but yesterday she finished in 19:16, way ahead of second-place finisher Dana Strickland (19:42) of Atholton.
"I wanted to break 19 minutes to day but the wind was a factor," said Adams, the defending Class 2A state champion.
She ran 19:25 at the county championships last year.
The Centennial girls beat runner-up Oakland Mills by 21 points with the efforts of Meyer (19:49), fifth-place Jeanine Lee (20:26), eighth-place Cherie Sticha (21:08), 10th-place Allison Pople (21:21) and 13th-place Stacy Cabanilla (21:48).
The Oakland Mills girls team, which never has finished as high as second, was exuberant about its effort. A year ago the Scorpions finished only fifth at the county championships.